Reviews for Leon and the Place Between

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Credulous Leon and his skeptical siblings take in a magic show. Leon volunteers to step into the magician's box and there he discovers another world. The story becomes increasingly subordinate to the dark, dramatic digital-montage art. The layouts feature a couple of die-cuts, a fold-out page, and an overwhelming variety of fonts. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 July #1
Aimed at readers who enjoy such elaborately illustrated, strongly atmospheric ventures into mysterious worlds as Neil Gaiman's The Wolves in the Walls, illustrated by Dave McKean (2003), and Chris Van Allsburg's The Garden of Abdul Gasazi (1979), this episode briefly casts a young member of a stage magician's audience through a die-cut hole into that Place "between there and back again" where magicians' props and assistants go when they disappear. Illustrating a brief text presented circus-poster style in an eye-crossing variety of typefaces, Baker-Smith fills the worlds on both sides of the small entryway with dense, deeply shadowed digital collages, shot through in the Place Between with swirls of stars and golden filigree, sprays of leaves and flowers, figures in exotic dress, streams of playing cards and ripples of rich fabrics. Picking up a rabbit there, Leon steps back out of the magician's cabinet to rejoin his skeptical but awed brothers, and tells his excited little sister that "the place that magic takes you" is open to "anyone... Anyone who believes." Fair insight, that, though trite and easier said than done. (Picture book. 6-9) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 August #1

When young Leon volunteers to take part in a magician's disappearing act, he is transported to a glittering limbo where all magical props--cards, coins, rabbits, a magician's assistant or an audience member like himself--wait before being summoned back with another wave of a hand or wand. Baker-Smith's moody, gold-filigreed digital pictures, which will remind many readers of the movie Coraline, conjure up the excitement of surrendering to suspended disbelief (die cuts and a gatefold add extra pizzazz to the spreads, although the story isn't significantly helped by their presence). Unfortunately, McAllister's writing does not take the story beyond its promising premise, and Leon's time in "the Place Between" is over almost before it starts. Additionally, the typography, which is set in tidy rectangles and modeled on theatrical posters, while stylistically consistent with the feel of the book, is a jumble of fonts and capitalizations. For readers, the magic is in the artwork. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 September

Gr 1-4--A spectacular blend of fantasy and reality results in a whimsical wonderland. When Leon and his siblings visit a magic show, they view the jugglers' amazing athletic feats, the mechanical toys as they whiz and whirl, and the enchanted carousel's lulling tunes--until the imposing Abdul Kazam appears. With a twist of his cape and a gleam in his eye, the formidable magician calls Leon into his act, transporting him to the "place between." Baker-Smith utilizes dramatic foldouts to depict the glorious night scenes. Digital illustrations provide richness and depth; majestic purple backgrounds dominate, and swirling golden lines support the dynamic, fluid spreads. Balanced between shadow and light, expressive angular faces convey the audience's astonishment. McAllister's descriptive text provides powerful emphasis through taut dialogue; shifting font varies for added emphasis. Phrases build momentum to a natural crescendo as Leon shares with the others that his place between exists for "anyone who believes." The result is a magical delight for both skeptics and believers.--Meg Smith, Cumberland County Public Library, Fayetteville, NC

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