Mar 8, 2008

Digging into Tunnels

There are certain publishing people whose opinion I will always listen to, and Barry Cunningham is one of them. We got to meet Barry a few years ago when he was squiring Cornelia Funke to the Educational Paperback Association’s annual meeting, and he was fabulous in every since of the word – a great and funny conversationalist and world traveler with a wicked smart eye for a good book (don’t forget, this is the man that discovered a new writer named J.K. Rowling.)

So anyway, Barry is pitching a new book for his imprint at Scholastic, Chicken House, and he says inside the front cover of the advance galley that “reading Tunnels gave me the same thrill I got from page one of Harry Potter.” Plus, I am fascinated by subways and underground people (remember Slake’s Limbo?) so it was moved to the top of my reading pile.

Do I think it’s the next Harry Potter? No way. But it was brilliantly original, with all of the right elements for what we used to call, when I was a bookseller, a “great book for boys.” Dr. Burrows and his son Will are amateur diggers, spending their free time exploring what’s under their feet…separately they discover that there is an entire world down there, run by a strange sect with evil plans. It’s solid science fiction, but it has an edge of horror to it that I don’t enjoy, but kids probably will. My only real complaint is that the end really does leave you hanging, and Barry says that the sequel, Deeps, isn’t coming until 2009!

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