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Publishers Weekly, 2007-05-07 Golding's YA debut, the first in the Companions Quartet, packs a serious environmental message, yet never feels heavy-handed. Eleven-year-old Connie Lionheart is not like other children-she has mismatched eyes and can talk to animals. Constantly switching schools because of assorted incidents ("Something always happens: foxes start following me around, or mice invade the classroom"), she ends up living with her odd Aunt Evelyn and soon meets popular student Col, who also has mismatched eyes. Aunt Evelyn is aware of Connie's abilities; she is a member of the Society for the Protection of Mythical Creatures, along with Col and a cast of eclectic characters. The Society is currently concerned with the sirens, who are increasingly angered by an encroaching oil company. The Society needs to find a "siren companion," someone who can approach the sirens while they are in their warlike state. Connie turns out to be a "universal companion," able to communicate with all species. Through her, the Society learns that an ancient evil spirit named Kullervo is whipping the sirens into their frenzy. Kullervo attempts to sway the tenderhearted Connie with a view of an unspoiled world-one "scoured clean" of humanity and its poisons-but the Society comes to her aid. The contemporary setting and its modern villains (including a shady oil company that covers up employee deaths) make for an entertaining read. Young readers with an environmental conscience will likely await the next outing in the series. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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