Great Ball of Light

illus. by Jeremy Holmes. 304p. S. & S./Atheneum. Mar. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781416964612; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442426610.
Gr 4–6—What if you had the power to bring plants, animals, even humans back to life? Thirteen-year-old Fiona North and her twin brother Fenton are forced to confront this question when they discover a great ball of light during a storm. The pulsing, glowing light is extraordinary not just because it's unique, but because it can bring things back to life or at least to "undeath." The twins start with small experiments—dead insects and mice—but soon they can't resist bringing back their dog and then their Grandpa Wade. But what do you do with an undead dog and grandpa? And what happens if the powerful ball of light ends up in the wrong hands? This science fiction story is set in rural Montana and begins with an attention-grabbing prologue, "A Handy Guide to Bringing Back the Dead (Take 1)." Fiona is a thoughtful narrator, although at times the story is held back by her slightly moralistic ramblings. Thankfully, the amusing characters, action, and humor keep the narrative engaging. Holmes's sketchy black-and-white illustrations are dotted throughout, as though they were drawn by Fiona and taped into a journal. The dramatic ending may leave readers brimming with unanswered questions about the effects of the ball and the future of the North family. The descriptions of the undead are gross and humorous, rather than scary, making this a fun book for the younger zombie-loving set. Recommended for general purchase.—Amy Seto Musser, Denver Public Library
During a tremendous storm, twelve-year-old twins Fenton and Fiona find a ball of light with the power to restore life to the dead--sort of. They experiment on the deceased family dog before moving on to digging up their grandfather, with mixed results. This comic science-fiction romp explores themes of ethical science experimentation and family forgiveness. Field guide–style illustrations appear throughout.

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