The Curse of the Blue Figurine: A Johnny Dixon Mystery

by John Bellairs

Paperback, 1996



Local notes

PB Bel





Puffin (1996), 208 pages


Johnny Dixon is plunged into a terrifying mystery-adventure when he removes a blue figurine called a ushabt. from church.


Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Children's Fiction — 1985)
Virginia Readers' Choice (Winner — Middle School — 1987)
Read Aloud Indiana Book Award (Intermediate — 1990)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

208 p.; 5 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Crowyhead
Perhaps my favorite of Bellairs books -- wonderfully creepy!
LibraryThing member danbarrett
God, I love John Bellairs. I believe this was the first book of his I ever read, and recently brought an old copy from my house to my apartment and re-read it with much enjoyment. The cranky old professor and the unsure young Johnny took me through many an exciting night when I should have been
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asleep. Not much has changed.
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LibraryThing member arouse77
this is the first in a series of marvelous books by John Bellairs starring Johnny Dixon. middle reader mysteries that had a profound impact on me when i started reading them in the 5th grade. the stories are always interesting and spooky, with a not-too-prominent-but-nevertheless-evident
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educational component. historical facts, random anthropological details and the like. i know i always came away feeling like i had been edified.

the main character is Johnny Dixion an adolescent who has been effectively orphaned by his mother's death and his father's military service. he goes to stay with his grandparents in the interim and strikes up a friendship with the eccentric college professor that lives across the street from them. Johnny is a quiet bookish kid, but weird crap just keeps happening to him.

Professor Childremass is the typical crotchety but soft-hearted sourpuss professorial type whom Johnny turns to when all the aforementioned weird crap starts up, since he just can't lay it on Gramma and Gramps. Professor Childermass takes all the wicked mystery in stride and often supplies the ways and means usually unavilable to a pre-teen to get to the bottom of the spooky goings on.

these books tend to follow a format which serves as a comforting constant for younger readers in what are otherwise remarkably eerie tales. the pacing is even such that there is usually something of a respite amidst the action to make the final climactic scene all the more exciting.

geared toward children, i still find these books engaging even as an adult. my 9 year old still thinks they are too scary for her, but i would definitely reccommend them to any middle reader who likes a good ghost story. or mummy story. or killer robot story.

additional props for cover art by Edward Gorey.
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LibraryThing member eightambliss
The Curse of the Blue Figurine is the first in the series of Johnny Dixion books by John Bellairs.

Set in 1950s Massachusetts, Johnny Dixon is living with his grandparents while his father is off fighting in the war. He befriends his neighbor, Professor Childermass, and life seems to be going
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smoothly between school, chess games with the professor and listening to his favorite radio programs. The professor has told Johnny a story about a wicked priest that haunts his church, but Johnny thinks little of first.

One day, while trying to avoid a school bully, Johnny sets off into the basement of his church and discovers a statue and a note that seem connected to the priest the professor told him about. He takes it home with him to further investigate it. One day at church, Johnny meets an unusual man who listens to Johnny's story of the blue figurine, and encourages him to use to to fight off his fears of the school bully....and only too late does Johnny realize what he has done...

This was a good book. It was the first in the Johnny Dixon series, so it isn't my favorite (no Fergie yet!), but still has a good scare factor. If you are a fan of John Bellairs previous work, you will enjoy this one!
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LibraryThing member bragan
After his neighbor the eccentric professor tells Johnny a ghost story about a priest who once practiced black magic and now haunts the local church, Johnny kinda-sorta accidentally steals a blue Egyptian figurine from the church's basement. Is it just the harmless trinket it appears to be, or is
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there a reason why ever since Johnny picked it up, bad things keep happening to the kid who bullies him?

Unlike The House with a Clock in Its Walls, which I read a few weeks ago, this one didn't have quite enough spooky atmosphere and excitement to make me more or less forget that I was reading something clearly aimed at kids. And the ending isn't as good, either; it wraps up the main story a little too abruptly and then tacks on a little too much "here's what just happened" exposition afterward. Still, it's a fun little tale, with a nice mixture of menace and mystery. I probably would have really loved it when I was eight or nine, and it's still fairly enjoyable even now.
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LibraryThing member particle_p
The first of the Johnny Dixon books is now available on Amazon as an ebook! The only reason to own a paper version is if you can find one with the original Gorey artwork, and I'm sure one day I'll get one. In the mean time, it was nice to reread it. This is actually one of the creepier Bellairs
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books, and I remember that I don't own an original Gorey copy because when I read my friend Jacob's in elementary school, it badly frightened me. I own originals of all of the other Bellairs books, though.

It was interesting reading this on the iPad because the fictional Duston Heights in the book is actually Haverhill Massachusetts, so I could go back and forth between the book and the map, finding the exact street Johnny is walking down. Because I've walked through Haverhill several times, I even have pictures of some of the places in the book, like the Merrimack river off of Water street.
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LibraryThing member AprilBrown
What ages would I recommend it too? – Six and up.

Length? – Most of a day’s read.

Characters? – Memorable, several characters.

Setting? – Real world, 1951.

Written approximately? – 1983.

Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? – Ready to read more.

Any issues the author (or a
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more recent publisher) should cover? No.

Short storyline: Johnny Dixon is in a new place and fighting new battles. When he discovers help from an unseen force, he trusts them, even though they tell him to keep a secret.

Notes for the reader: In many ways, it feels oulineish, like you waiting for something to happen. Can't explain why it doesn't feel complete or believable.
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LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
Hmmm. I honestly don't know what I think of this book. I nearly quit, out of sheer boredom - not with the story, but with the language and sentence structure. It's really, really basic and simplistic. The story is interesting, both in itself and in the world it depicts, but the characters are
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sketchy stereotypes, there's several instances of telling ("Johnny felt happy.") instead of showing, and the book is an illustration of the thing I never really believed in from writing classes, where they tell you to vary the length and patterns of your sentences or it gets dull. If this is an early book by Bellairs, maybe he gets better, so I'll try a few more. I also never felt scared, though I dislike horror stories; the setup is a little too obvious, and (again) the language is too simplistic, to draw me in and make me _feel_ the events. OK, my opinion is - not particularly good but it's worth trying some others in the series. Definitely a read-once, though.
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LibraryThing member hopeevey

Fun read, remarkably suspenseful.
LibraryThing member themulhern
There seems to be a template for this author: boy becomes unwitting pawn of supernatural force, but is rescued in the nick of time and overcomes the evil. The appeal for me to today is the locations and the period; in the 70s Bellairs wrote books set in the 50s, most likely in the time of his own
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adolescence. The locations are also enjoyable, because I am familiar with them.
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LibraryThing member NurseBob
The little Catholic touches are nice, especially for those of us who can remember our parochial school days, but overall it's a silly story with a few too many plot holes and a resolution that reads like it was written on the fly. I doubt I would have enjoyed it any more had I been 9 years old.




½ (105 ratings; 3.8)
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