In the event this is a deal breaker, you should know right off the bat that "The Stolen Child," by Keith Donohue, belongs to the genre known as fantasy, and that its pages are populated by hobgoblins and changelings. Fantasy is often dismissed as a necessary evil to get kids to take their medicine -- i.e., learn values -- or as a soft blanket for 40-year-old virgins. But as the success of "The Time Traveler's Wife" attests, fantasy can serve a nobler function. By replacing the sordidness of the everyday with magic, writers can approach the philosophers' stone with questions about history, identity and (why not?) the meaning of life.
SUFFERIN' saurians of Saturn!!! Can reading still be just plain fun? The way it was when judging a book (or a comic or a pulp magazine) by its cover (square-jawed hero in the grip of revolting Thing blazing away with his fearsomely foreshortened Antimatter Gun) was the rule to follow?
The virulent science-fiction and fantasy bug seems to infect most reader-kids somewhere around age 12. Once the jolt of pure story-spinning hits the preteen bloodstream, it is goodbye to chores, homework, even television. Although there is no known cure for SFitis, most of those affected appear to go into remission a few years later, thanks to copious doses of cultural elitism administered in high school. Others, either oblivious or more independent, stay fans of the genre for the rest of their days. To their delight, the sci-fi universe is continually expanding — there's now the option of warping into parallel universes on the Net.