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While looking through the window, Johnny Dixon sees that insane Evaristus Sloane's creation of a baseball-pitching robot is almost complete, except for its missing eyes, and when Johnny feels he is being followed, he becomes rather nervous. Reprint.
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John Anthony Bellairs (1938 1991) is an award-winning American author, perhaps best known for his fantasy novel The Face in the Frost. He is also the author of many gothic mystery novels for children and young adults, including The House with a Clock in its Walls (which received both the New York Times Outstanding Book of Award and the American Library Association Children's Books of International Interest Award), The Lamp from the Warlock’s Tomb (which won the Edgar Allen Poe Award), and The Specter from the Magician’s Museum (which won the New York Public Library "Best Books for the Teen Age" Award.
Grade 5-8 Johnny Dixon and Professor Childermass, along with their friend Byron "Fergie" Ferguson, are back in another imaginative chiller. Here the three are pitted against Evaristus Sloane, an insane wizard and inventor. But even more frightening than Sloane is a robot he invented some 50 years before. The robot was built to look like a baseball player and to pitch balls, but the Professor, Johnny, and Fergie discover a much darker side to the mechanism. After finding the dismantled robot in an abandoned house, the Professor reassembles it. But after placing its eyes back in the empty sockets, the Professor realizes too late that he has resurrected a killer machine. Not only must the robot be stopped but also its mad inventor before Johnny loses his eyes and his life to a terrifying scheme. As always, Bellairs skillfully runs a current of evil just beneath the surface of the commonplace. The supernatural is mixed with the ordinary so effortlessly and so naturally as to make even the most bizarre people and situations seem possible in a very unsettling way. A unique plot, marvelous characters, and non-stop suspense make for deliciously wicked fun. Drew Stevenson, Tompkins County Public Library, Ithaca, N.Y.
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