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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  10,875 ratings  ·  1,116 reviews
Summerland is the story of a young hero on a quest through the strange world of the American Faery. This is a fantasy for readers of all ages, set against the background of the American myth. The Clam Island fairies are in grave peril. War is coming, another battle in an ancient conflict. When the band sends for a champion, they get an 11 year-old boy named Ethan Feld. He ...more
Hardcover, 500 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by Turtleback Books (first published 2002)
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C. Brian Stevens

A grimoire is a book of magic that may contain spells, conjurations, instructions for divination and…more

A grimoire is a book of magic that may contain spells, conjurations, instructions for divination and the construction of amulets, and other secret knowledge of a supernatural kind. The examples include such famous works as the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, The Book of St Cyprian, The Key of Solomon and The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.

The word is French, in the same sense. It began to appear in French-English dictionaries early in the nineteenth century but became more widely known in the 1850s. In French, it was a medieval modification of grammaire, a book of grammar, by which was meant Latin grammar, since at the time there was no other kind. It derives from the Latin grammatica, the study of literature in general, which by the Middle Ages had come to mean knowledge of Latin.

The shift from book of grammar to book of magic isn’t as weird as it might seem. Few among the ordinary people in those times could read or write. For superstitious minds books were troubling objects. Who knew what awful information was locked up in them? For many people grammar meant the same thing as learning, and everybody knew that learning included astrology and other occult arts.

In medieval English, grammarye was likewise the study of Latin grammar and this, too, took on undertones of occult learning, magic and necromancy. It fell out of use but was revived by Sir Walter Scott in his Lay of the Last Minstrel in 1805.

Another of Scott’s popularisations was the Scots glamour. This was also from grammar, with a small shift in pronunciation, and shared the idea that grammar was linked with witchcraft and sorcery. To us today glamour is physical allure but for the Scots of earlier times, and for Scott, it was enchantment, magic or a spell cast upon a person.(less)

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3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,875 ratings  ·  1,116 reviews

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May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
(A review from 2002 and the Washington Post, written before Coraline was published.)

It is possible to look at the growth of the phenomenon of “crossover” fiction – essentially, Children’s or Young Adult fiction which is enjoyed and consumed in quantity by adults – in several different ways. You could view it as a sad symptom of the creeping infantilisation of the culture. You could see it as a triumph of marketing. Or, more optimistically, you could view it as a need by adults for Story, without
Benjamin Duffy
The perfect love child of Shoeless Joe and American Gods, and one of the best tween-age novels I've ever read.

This is the first of Michael Chabon's books that I've read, but it's obvious on every page that he isn't a "children's author," but simply a great writer who decided to write a children's book. Better than merely utilitarian, Chabon's language is a joy to read: accessible enough that my then-9 year old stepson enjoyed it, yet I was kept on my toes by the rich, sharp imagery and inventiv
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it

I desire to give this 500 pg hardbound book a child who LOVES baseball, and who doesn't mind fantasy. This was def the wrong choice of book for the first Chabon book I've ever read. But I am stubborn, and thought I could get into the story given I was educated as to Chabon's headspace after having lost a child, his grieving, his love of baseball, his wanting the remaining kids to have a story with hidden lessons....

Not a book for me. But I can definitely spot the jewels of
Jan 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Imagine Lord of the Rings if the characters stopped every couple days to play baseball.

Working within an amalgamation of Norse, Greek, and Native American mythology as well as American tall tales, Chabon tells a not atypical coming-of-age/quest story tied inextricably to baseball. Baseball, as it turns out, is not only America's pasttime, but also a sacred institution on the other planes of existence.
Ethan, a kid who hates baseball, must learn to love it as he battles his way across the Summerl
Mattia Ravasi
Sep 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Video review

My review might sound slightly tongue-in-cheek but, make no mistake, there are still a couple of sentences in here that completely tear me up and are well worth the elven baseball extravaganza.
Lisa Vegan
May 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: baseball fans, kids' lit fans
I had some problems with the writing style of this book, and it had a convoluted plot, but I did sort of fall in love with this fantasy book. I love kids’ lit and I’m a baseball fan, so this was right up my alley. He really knows baseball and my favorite part in the book was the comment about the designated hitter; for me that alone was worth the read.
Lyn Elliott
Oct 03, 2018 added it
Shelves: unfinished
After the autobiographical introduction, the book lost my interest completely.
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
one of the many qualities that sets michael chabon's writing well beyond the realm of his contemporaries is his obvious love of craft. throughout his works it is apparent that he finds sheer joy in the art of storytelling. chabon's enthusiasm for literature is far-reaching, as is evidenced by his ability to write engagingly well in many a different genre. no two chabon books are ever all that similar, and as his career evolves, he seems set on authoring works entirely unlike their predecessors. ...more
Nov 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who sees a touch of magic in the world
Recommended to Alan by: His more adult-oriented work
"Yet we know that no branch is utterly severed from the Tree of Life that sustains us all."
—Peter Hewitt, as quoted in a Unitarian hymnal.

Michael Chabon's Summerland offers a tale both staunchly traditional and boldly imaginative, weaving elements of Norse mythology together with Native American legends, tall tales, and just a dash of science fiction. And baseball... more than anything else, this book is about baseball. But don't let that put you off, even if you don't care for the game (and I m
I guess if I were eleven years old, this book would've been alright... But, coming from a Pulitzer-winning author, I was kinda expecting a 500-page kids' fantasy novel to be at least moderately entertaining for adults as well. Chabon's prose is excellent, but he tries too hard to be quirky; and, therefore, the story never really sucks you in the way it's supposed to because nearly everything that happens in the plot feels random and silly. The basic premise of SUMMERLAND is that a boy selected t ...more
May 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
"They traded in their hell-hammers for bats, and their iron slippers for lace-up leather spikes. That's how all the demon virtues-patience, deception, quick hands, craftiness, an eye for the mistakes of others-they all got dragged deep into the game."

No, Mr. Chabon wasn't talking SPECIFICALLY about the New York Yankees...but we all get the reference, right? You know the feeling you get when you start reading something and internally you're going, "yeah, what he said, uhhuh, yup, oh yeah" and you
Apr 15, 2008 rated it did not like it
The description sounds good, eh? I read this aloud to the kids. About a hundred pages in I started having misgivings. I did not enjoy this book. But the kids would've been out of sorts had I not finished it (they'll listen to almost anything). I don't really have anything good to say about this book. While I've read other books by the author and really liked them, this one counts as a FAIL. (For the record, my wife really enjoyed it.) Here's what I didn't like about it:

a) the writing style: too
I loved this book. Not quite as much as Kavalier & Clay, but still in the five star range. It had a kind of Neil Gaiman-y take on myth. I love books that explore myth or archtypes in a modern context, but this was a really good example. I have to admit the characters were far more likeable and accessible to me than many of Gaiman's characters. I enjoy baseball but I can't say I'm a big baseball fan' this really conveyed a sense of what the true fans see in it. I haven't read Chabon's works o ...more
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Listened to this with the kids on the road to New York--I'd listened to it on my own years ago, and have waited for the time when they were old enough, into baseball enough, etc. I bought it for other kids. But as Cubs fans say, "THIS [was] the year." The kids loved it: fairies AND sports?! Best of all possibles. Chabon does well reading, too, even with such a long book (12 discs). Don't know how old you have to be to read it in paper; I keep buying it in paper and then giving it away before I t ...more
Joanna Vaught
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
name a writing gimmick that is used in fantasy, particularly young adult fantasy, and i'm sure it was employed here. an alternate reality that is tied to our reality that explains all the mythological and fantastical characters in our collective mythos? yes. time works differently in this world, so you can be there and be gone for a lifetime or only a few minutes or SHOCK even go back in time? yes. a powerful nemesis who is actually the embodiment of every known evil since the beginning of time, ...more
Terry Brooks
Nov 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Summerland came out a couple of years ago, a young adult novel by prize winning writer Michael Chabon. I bought it because I like the author's other work, and I was intrigued by the baseball aspect of the structure. Basically, it is an end of the world story in which baseball plays a role in not only daily life but in the possibility of salvation. It sounds weird, and it is - which made it all the more interesting to me. A boy who can't hit or field becomes our best hope in a struggle with dark ...more
Christopher Roberts
Sep 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book does not read like a children's book. It reads like a book for adults trying to recreate the feeling of a children's book. That is why it seems patronizing and artificial and riddled with cliches. At this point any novel that features the "magical elderly black man" trope should be condemned. Earlier writers could be excused but welcome to the 21st century.
Oct 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
The pace is a bit slow, but that seems to fit because the story is about baseball. Also multidimensionality and the eternal fight of good against evil.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
I dearly love Michael Chabon's ability to write but this baseball fantasy legend struck out with me. The main characters were decently drawn but the story kept falling through holes in the scenery, following Ethan on a shaky path. After 150 pages, I decided that I just couldn't force myself to finish it and was enticed by other spines in bookcase. That's disappointing because after Chabon masterpieces in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Final Solution, and Manhood for Amateurs, ...more
Summerland, by Michael Chabon, is a baseball-themed novel about Ethan Feld and his friends'(Jenifer T. Rideout, Thor Wignutt, Cinquefoil the ferister, Taffy the sasquach, Cutbelly the werefox, Grim the giant, Pettipaw the wererat, and Spider-Rose the ferisher) attempt to defeat the evil Coyote (he's not a coyote, that's just his name). In this novel, Ethen starts out as a kid who is not that good at baseball and is on the worst team in Summerland. His dad loves baseball, so Ethan tries harder to ...more
Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author take a stab at writing for young adults. A very clever fantasy incorporating our ‘real’ world with a parallel one that most mere humans don’t know about, this is adventure and fantasy in brilliant colorful language and solid, interesting characters, mostly young or not human. Ethan Field, the protagonist young fellow, is wonderful as he embarks on the challenge of rescuing his father from evil Coyote, and ends up working to save the world while he’s at it. The f ...more
Melissa Symanczyk
I admit that, as a grown-up who's not a baseball fan, I am not this book's target audience. However, I really enjoyed the American take on faerie and folklore mixed with older traditions, and the way Chabon mythologizes baseball. By the end there are almost too many characters to keep track of, but I loved Jennifer T. Rideout so much. Now I'm imagining the Shadowtails vs. Tolkien's Fellowship baseball game...
Oct 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: children who love wild adventure
While I had trouble falling into the story, the writing, as would be expected with venerable Mr. Chabon, was superb.

I read this book on the recommendation of my daughter and my wife as they both really loved the book. As a kids book goes, this thing is packed with everything that make children's literature memorable and stuffed with so much more that I hope children everywhere get the opportunity to read this book.

Using baseball as The Creation Story, Michael Chabon delightfully spins every co
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's been a few days, and I'm still not quite sure what I think of this book. It's long, and I finished it, so I suppose that's a good sign. It made me want to love baseball (like I had just finished watching "Field of Dreams").

UPDATE: From a few months on, I can say that I enjoyed it and have fond memories of it.

I do have one [minor] gripe, though: Edwin Schrödinger's point with his famous cat example is that a thing *cannot* be both alive and dead at the same time -- the cat is either alive or
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Harry Potter, of Chabon's other books
MAN I really liked this book! It was better in the middle than the end, but that's okay, that might be how I feel about all kid-goes-on-a-magical-journey, Joseph Campbell type stuff.

So! The storyline was familiar, as I already sort of alluded to above. But I didn't mind, because the writing is clever, the ideas are cute, and the characters were likeable, and not too cliche'. Most importantly, the story was FUN. Hooray for Summerland and also for baseball!

Everyone who liked Harry Potter should re
David Everett
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Best fantasy book about baseball, faeries, zeppelins, American Indian mythology, and Sasquatch ever written.
Daniel Archer
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I sold this to Nate as our next long audiobook as "Baseball with faeries, like Fablehaven." I didn't bother explaining that Michael Chabon is a Pulitzer winner, though I might have offered Hall of Fame membership as a simile for that accomplishment. But I was certainly excited to try something that wasn't going to make my ears bleed as a reader of dubious talent flayed them with braided ropes of mangled phrases.

I'll need to check out the Pulitzer winner (and others) soon, but Chabon did not disa
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Summerland is your basic children’s adventure where some kid is summoned in a fairy land as a champion and given the task to save it from some villain. A twist is that it is supposed to do that by playing baseball instead of using magic swords or spells.

A lot of effort is given to flesh out the setting. Clam Island, the place on which the story takes place, feels very lively and memorable thanks to the numerous descriptions of how people live and work. Aesthetically speaking, I didn’t like it m
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, kindle-books, ya
A really fun book. I'm pretty sure 11 year old me would have absolutely loved it. Plot reminded me of A Wrinkle In Time (unpopular misfit kid and pal go on adventure to rescue a parent with help from mysterious and mythological creatures) but much longer with lots of baseball thrown in the mix. I didn't like it as much as A Wrinkle in Time mainly because I didn't find the baseball stuff all that interesting but it was still a really good book. If you've got a kid in your life who plays little le ...more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Chabon's tale mashes up baseball, Native American and American folklore, and Norse mythology in what was marketed as an all-ages book in the style of Harry Potter. Though I'm not a baseball fan, I enjoyed it thoroughly. The way it combined various pantheons reminded me a bit of Neil Gaiman. As is usual for Chabon, the writing's just beautiful.
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summerland 3 35 Dec 01, 2007 06:38PM  

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Michael Chabon (b. 1963) is an acclaimed and bestselling author whose works include the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). Chabon achieved literary fame at age twenty-four with his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), which was a major critical and commercial success. He then published Wonder Boys (1995), another bestseller, which was mad ...more
“The fundamental truth: a baseball game is nothing but a great slow contraption for getting you to pay attention to the cadence of a summer day.” 56 likes
“Nothing is boring exept to people who aren't really paying attention.” 53 likes
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