In debut novelist Fardell's (whose cartoons have appeared in Viz and the Herald, among other publications) lightning-paced, skillfully streamlined caper, he introduces Professor Ampersand, an affable, absent-minded inventor. The professor tells great-niece Zara, great-nephew Ben and their 11-year-old houseguest, Sam, how he and six other academics, all scientists or inventors, were once tapped to be the founding professors of a new university located on the Arctic island of Nordbergen. After the others discovered that Professor Murdo was planning to perform deadly experiments on a baby, the villainous fellow forced his six colleagues onto a plane and abandoned them in the icy wilderness. Now, 35 years later, Murdo, headquartered in Nordbergen, has discovered a way to create a superhuman species and a virus that will eradicate the existing human race. While gathering at Ampersand's Edinburgh home to discuss Murdo's current lethal research, the six remaining professors are kidnapped by the villain's men. Zara, Ben and Sam make a plan to rescue Ampersand and his friends, and the journey takes up most of the novel. Plenty of excitement accompanies them across Europe into Russia, followed by a ski-boat trip across icy waters and a thrilling ride in a submarine, and finally to Nordbergen, where a dramatic showdown awaits. Demonstrating a sure hand at fantasy, adventure and suspense, debut novelist Fardell has shaped a novel that smoothly blends all three. Ages 9-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
As eleven-year-old Sam is packing his rucksack with his Swiss army knife, binoculars, and a notebook full of drawings of inventions, he wonders if he will even use these items during a week-long stay with boring Great Aunt Roberta. But dread turns to excitement when his parents surprise him with an Easter break spent with their friend Professor Ampersand, his great niece Zara, and his great nephew Ben, instead. The professor is a remarkable inventor. By the time everyone gets to the professor's house, filled with marvelous inventions, Sam, Ben, and Zara are fast friends. But what starts out as a fun week turns into a dangerous adventure when the professor and five colleagues are kidnapped by evil Professor Murdo and taken to the icy island of Nordbergen in the Barents Sea. It's up to the three adolescents to follow clues, travel by secret underground rail, and arrive at Nordbergen to rescue the professors before they are killed on Wednesday--and it is Sunday now. Will they make it in time? Will they find friends to help them along the way? If they do arrive on time, how do they find the professors in the heavily fortified Arctic island? This debut novel is a wonderful, fast-paced adventure, filled with just the right mixture of whimsy and suspense that British writers seem to be so good at. Black and white drawings add to the reading pleasure. Middle readers will want to read many more by this talented writer. 2004, G.P. Putnam's Sons, Ages 9 to 12.
Gr 4-7-Eleven-year-old Sam Carnabie is spending two weeks with the intriguing Professor Ampersand, an old family friend, and his young charges, Zara and Ben. Upon arrival in Edinburgh, Sam is amazed by the thousands of quirky inventions that the professor created in his fantastic home and learns about his host's intriguing past. Thirty-five years earlier, the professor and six colleagues had attempted to create the world's greatest university on an island nation called Nordbergen in the Arctic. One of them was evil Professor Murdo, who kidnapped his colleagues and left them to die. Fortunately, his plan didn't work. Unfortunately for Sam and the siblings, Professor Murdo's henchmen appear and again kidnap the six good professors, who have gathered at Ampersand's because of rumors of Murdo's reemergence. The children have only three days to rescue the professors and save the human race. Side stories involving Marcia Slick and her dreadful parents, who have paid a fortune to Nordbergen Research Enterprises to turn her into the "perfect" daughter, and several teenagers who aid Sam, Ben, and Zara culminate with the infiltration of the children into Murdo's lair. Comic relief is provided by Ampersand's cranky neighbor, who speaks in colorful Scots language. Action is nonstop and very exciting. This inventive, funny, suspenseful, and exciting book will appeal to most readers, especially fans of Dahl and Rowling.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Sam Carnabie, 11, is not thrilled at the prospect of staying with his great aunt Roberta while his parents attend a conference on new developments in canned vegetable technology. He jumps at the chance, instead, to stay with one of his parents' college professors, and his great niece and great nephew. What starts as a simple trip to Edinburgh ends with a frosty rescue mission to the frozen north that includes saving the world. An old enemy kidnaps Prof. Ampersand and five of his former colleagues. To save them, the children travel by secret underground railroad, ski boat and submarine. They arrive just in time to stop a madman from altering humanity's genetic makeup. Fardell's debut is Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet without the space travel. The pacing is slow in places and the description thick. The amount of adult help that the children need might turn off some American audiences, but there is humor and a slam-bang finish. The author's simple pen-and-ink illustrations are a definite plus. Large collections with well-read adventure seekers will want to add this to the shelf. (Fiction. 9-12)