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Summary: Abdullah is a young merchant whose life up to now had been simple and happy as he searched for a way to please his family. A merchant sold him a magic carpet which had seen better days. One evening while he was walking in a luxorious garden he met and fell in love the princess Flower-in-the-Night. This is a fascinating and adventurous story in the tradition of the Arabian Nights tales.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book, midle grade reader
Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 12; read yourself: 11 and up
Young Reader Reaction: When I opened to the first page, I noticed the chapter headings:
“In which Abdullah buys a carpet,” “In which Abdullah is mistaken for a young lady,” and “Which is rather full of princesses.” Quite instantly the tasteful, frank humor of Diane Wynne Jones draws in the
reader like a spell. Rather than exaggerating the magical side of the story, Jones told the tale as if she was merely recounting her favorite way of eating cereal. This delightful way of making magic seem like everyday life creates a world both entirely believable and entirely unbelievable. Every character has a purpose, and every character returns in the finale in a completely unexpected yet wholly needed way. Thank you, my dear Abdullah, for taking me on a magic
carpet ride to a world filled with babies-turned-kittens, cowardly genies, flowery carpet merchants, house-sized djinns, lives hidden in nose rings, and one very angry young princess. I recommend Castle in the Air to all those who have the slightest speck of humor, and perhaps even that is not needed to find oneself in a marvelous fantasy of fantastic proportions.
Adult Reader Reaction: Having successfully published more than 30 fantasy/mystery books, the author continues to keep her readers on the edge of their seat. The author knows the genre inside and out; I would give it 8 of 10 stars.
Pros: Readers will be captivated on page one of this exciting, funny, and imaginative offering.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. I would buy this as a gift for a teen, and I would also recommend it for the classroom, school, and public library.
Educational Themes: This book is written to provide reading material that will appeal to teen readers. To be a successful writer in this genre, the material needs to be a little zany and bizarre. Authors who expect to write for this genre have to laugh a lot.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book to the Reading Tub, Inc. This is an unsolicited donation.
Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure
Date(s) Reviewed: October 2009
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.