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Richie's Picks: DEMONKEEPER by Royce  Buckingham, Putnam, May 2007, ISBN: 
" 'There's only one copy of this in the nation,' she  said.  'I can have it 
for you in three weeks.'
" 'Great!  Thank you...'
" 'I'm Sandy.  And there's the one-dollar interlibrary  loan fee.'
" 'Right.  Of course,' Nat said.  He nodded and  began dumping dimes, 
quarters, nickels, lint, and an inspected by tag  onto Sandy's pristine desk.
"Sandy couldn't help herself -- she stacked the coins by  denomination, then 
hurried the lint and tag to the garbage.
"Nat smiled as he watched her fuss.
"Sandy realized he was watching and looked up.  Their  eyes met.  U Go Girl! 
she thought.  She took a deep  breath.  'You know, you've been coming here for 
a little while, and I never  see you with anyone.'
" 'I don't know a lot of people.'
" 'You know'  She scribbled on his interlibrary  loan receipt.  
'You could call my cell.'
" 'Your cell?'
" 'My phone.'
"Nat debated.  He looked pained.  'I'm not supposed  to,' he said finally.
" 'What?  Like there's some rule against  it?'
"Nat took his receipt.  'Yes,' he said quickly, and he  fled before she could 
say another word.
"Sandy watched him go, sad.  She didn't know how U Go  Girl! would rate her 
effort to adventurize, but she imagined that, because  the first boy she'd 
gotten the courage to proposition had run away, it wouldn't  be good."
I really enjoyed my first visit to Seattle.  The  Convention Center where ALA 
was meeting is conveniently located right in  the center of the city, and the 
buses -- which are inexpensive when heading to  the outskirts and free when 
traveling around the city center -- are all operated  by friendly, helpful 
drivers.  We stayed at a hostel which was  close to the water and right around the 
corner from both the Pike Place Market  and a nice little shop with great 
salt bagels.  And, we had the  pleasure of being taken out for lunch to a 
highly-acclaimed vegan  restaurant: Bamboo Garden on Roy Street.  The hot and sour 
soup there is  the best I've ever tasted.
Just a few blocks away from the restaurant, in a massive 1901  
Craftsman-style home that sits amidst a tidy Queen Anne Hill neighborhood,  Nat -- 
skittish 15 year-old boy who was being assisted by high school  sophomore and 
Seattle Public Library junior assistant librarian Sandra  (Sandy) Nertz -- lives 
alone.  Well, not really alone.   The house is filled with demons and it is his 
job to feed, care for, and  contain them, now that his teacher, Dhaliwahl has 
died.  It has been a  challenging and often lonely first month of "keeping" 
the demons on  his own.  For heaven's sake!  He's almost gotten himself eaten.  
And Dhaliwahl's teachings had, in  fact, included instructions that Nat stay 
away from  girls.
There are hundreds of goofy demons bouncing  around Nat's house.  And then 
there is The Beast, a deadly,  nightmarish demon being kept locked in the 
fortified basement who  is fed through a barred feeding shoot.  
Oh, and don't forget about Nat's own three minions: There is Pernicious, "the 
demonic incarnation of nasty  surprises," Nikolai, who "embodies the chaos of 
not knowing one's own strength,"  and Flappy, "a wind demon, the incarnation 
of swirling gusts -- the aimless,  spasmodic sort that sent children's kites 
into trees."  The trio are a  total blast.  
But, the question is, when things start really going badly,  will the minions 
be more help or hindrance?  And what  about Sandy, the resourceful teenage 
junior assistant librarian?   Or the pair of skater dudes who break into the 
demon-filled house with  disastrous consequences.
"Nat stomped his foot.  'I mean it, did you receive a  clear visual image of 
three demonic manifestations that are minionic in  character?'
" 'I saw a pint-sized dragon, a deformed evil gnome on  steroids, and a 
retarded two-legged Chihuahua.'
" 'So you did see them,' Nat said."
DEMONKEEPER by Royce Buckingham is an alternately sweet,  funny, and 
occasionally deadly story of a lonely boy, a lonely girl, a house  full of demons, 
vengeful apprentice gone bad, a pair of skater  dudes, and The Beast.  The 
middle school kids are going to eat  this one up with a gusto equal to that of 
Pernicious, Nikolai, and  Flappy when they greedily dive headfirst into their 
cast iron trough  full of fish guts.     

Richie  Partington
Richie's Picks _http://richiespicks.com_ ( 
Moderator, _ 
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