Deep underground, the Minimoys are waiting . . . for a champion.
Arthur''s grandfather disappeared four years ago. All he left behind are his notebooks full of stories about little -- known African tribesincluding the Minimoys, a miniature people who are all less than one inch tall.
But the Minimoys can''t possibly be real . . . can they?
Arthur is about to find out, as he un covers a hidden message that catapults him on an adventure wilder than he had ever imagined. In just three days, he must find a way to the land of the Minimoys, recover a stolen treasure, battle an invading force of mosquito -- riding warriors, defeat an evil wizard, win the heart of a very independent prin cessand somehow get back home again.
It seems like an impossible task, but as he''ll discover along the way, sometimes the littlest heroes can make the biggest difference. . . .
Luc Besson, writer, director and producer of
The Fifth Element and
La Femme Nikita, makes his children''s book debut with this over-the-top middle-grade fantasy first published in France.
Ten-year-old Arthur and his grandmother are doing just fine on their own -- except for that Grandpa has been missing in Africa for four years and a developer villain is evicting them from their own house. Things sour further when antique dealers haul away all of Grandpa''s priceless African artifacts and books. Arthur is certain that his grandfather must have left some hidden message somewhere that will reverse their current downward spiral. He hopes to discover some way to enter the world of the beautiful, red-haired, blue-eyed African Princess Selenia that he saw in his grandfather''s sketches; member of a tiny (less-than-an-inch-tall) tribe called the Minimoys that he suspects might live in Grandma''s garden. But how, when Grandpa''s attic has been stripped of clues?
Besson''s story contains many of the elements of a good, suspenseful children''s adventure, but it is often over told, employs an abundance of facile plot solutions, and loses threads and themes in a long, dizzying action-adventure sequence that abruptly ends as "to be continued." Still, it''s hard to resist a likeable hero-protagonist, treasure maps, the promise of rubies, and a land of warring tiny people. Let the hype begin! The sequel Arthur and the Forbidden City is due in fall 2005, and Arthur, a computer-animated movie based on the books, is due out in 2006, with Madonna voicing the part of Princess Selenia. (Ages 8 to 12) --Karin Snelson
Grade 4-6–A French film director tries his hand at fantasy for children. In order to save his grandparents'' home from foreclosure and find his missing grandfather, Arthur magically enters the land of the Lilliputian Minimoys through the garden, where he falls in love with tiny Princess Selenia. Now Minimoy-sized, he travels with her and her younger brother towards Necropolis, the center of power for the evil Maltazard and the place where he believes his grandfather is a prisoner. The journey is perilous and replete with battles with the villain''s henchmen, and the book ends with our three heroes facing new dangers on their way to Necropolis. The jacket blurb informs readers that there will be two films based on this book and its sequel. Indeed, the volume is full of situations that are likely to work more successfully on film than in print. The author informs readers about the characters'' reactions and feelings rather than revealing them through the story, and sections of the book read almost like explanations of the characters to actors. Arthur shifts from being a very young-seeming 10-year-old to being in love with and wanting to marry the princess in a way that is not believable. The narrator''s tone is condescending and there are asides that appear to be addressed to adult readers. With flat characters, pedestrian descriptions of the battles, and an ending that feels incomplete rather than cliff-hanging, this book will have trouble keeping an audience.
–Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
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Gr. 4-6. Although this was a best-seller in France, some of its charm must have been lost in translation. Ten-year-old Arthur lives with his grandmother. His dear grandfather, an inventor and visionary who spent much time in generic "Africa," has been lost for six years, and a Snidely Whiplash villain wants to steal Grandmother''s home. Arthur decides to go to the Land of the Minimoys, a tribe of people less than an inch tall that once befriended his grandfather, in hope of finding help. Once there, Arthur finds himself reduced to Minimoy size and with his work cut out for him--work that takes him into the next book. Besson, a movie writer and director (
The Fifth Element), offers a real hodge-podge here, which includes a nod to Arthurian legend. The only reason to have this on hand is the publisher''s massive marketing campaign, with print and radio ads along with hype for a movie to be made from this book and its sequel,
Arthur and the Forbidden City, to be released in the fall.There may be demand--then disappointment.
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Luc Besson is the highly acclaimed screenwriter, producer, and director of such movies as The Fifth Element, The Messenger: Joan of Arc, Leon, and La Femme Nikita. He lives in France.