Friday, April 16, 2010

the kneebone boy

I recently finished reading Ellen Potter's The Kneebone Boy, a quirky Middle-Grade novel that will be released in September.

A while back, I predicted that 2010 would be a year for great books for boys, and The Kneebone Boy is definitely going to be on my next list of those books.

The Hardscrabble siblings -- chuffy Lucia, brilliant Max, and the silent Otto, who speaks with his hands -- trapped in what they think is an ordinary life (even though their mother is missing and locals believe Otto strangled her, and their father is an artist who paints portraits of deposed monarchs), get stranded in London and wind up in a bizarre seaside village where they find a polydactyl cat named Chester whose tail makes a constant question mark. They also discover that their lives are anything but ordinary.

It's brilliantly funny and fast-paced, a terrific read-aloud book. It's narrated by one of the children, too, but you're not supposed to know who it is that's telling the story, even though Potter "outs" the narrator with here-and-there confessional rantings. You'll have to figure that out for yourselves, though.

I don't make a habit of reading Middle Grade novels, but this one grabbed me right away. I found myself wishing it was about 400 pages longer.

It's a great book for boys (and girls), and don't assume that you -- or your kids -- are too old for it, just because you'll find it in the MG section of the bookshelves. Brilliantly done.