Author: Ellen Potter
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (September 14, 2010)
Reading Level: Grades 4th to 8th
Source: ARC for review
Rating: 5 Stars - Highly recommend
Description from GoodReads:
The book's set in a small English town and follows the Hardscrabble kids who are relocated to live with their aunt in London, where they discover they might be living next door to “a horribly misshapen boy who has figured in local legend.” It’s the story of the three Hardscrabble siblings and their search for the legendary Kneebone Boy.
There are books that are fun to read. There are other books that are amazingly well written. Sometimes, though, it is a struggle to find "fun to read" and "amazingly well written" between the same covers of a book. However, as I read through Ellen Potter's newest book The Kneebone Boy, I found myself repeating in this awestruck manner "This book is brilliant". Both fun and well written and bound behind a spectacular cover. (Click here to read a post from Potter about the cover of the book illustrated by Jason Chan.)
The Kneebone Boy is a tale of 3 children, siblings, living in an odd home with a somewhat eccentric father in England. There is a mystery surrounding the disappearance of their mother which permeates their lives and influences their actions. When they find themselves on their own in London, rather than return home, they set out to find their great-aunt. Their journey turns out to be an adventure of a lifetime. One that will challenge and test them on many levels, but will ultimately provide them with new understanding.
I am determined not to spoil this story so if some of the details seem vague it is for exactly this reason. Potter is a master storyteller and has crafted this novel in a manner that reveals just what needs to be at each step of the journey. As I read each page, I never felt that I wanted more or less than what was given to me. Even as I arrived at the end of the book, I was pleased with the manner in which she pulled together all of the aspects of the story and provided the reader with a deeply satisfying ending.
It should be noted that The Kneebone Boy is written in a style that fans of Lemony Snickets' Series of Unfortunate Events or Pseudonymous Bosch's Secret Series will be familiar with. Yet, the story begins in a very different voice and style from other novels by Potter. If you are not familiar with Snickets' or Bosch's stories, and more accustomed with Potter's traditional writing style, then I would suggest that you give the story a couple of chapters to acclimate yourself to the narrator's manner. Once in the rhythm of the story you will find yourself, enjoying the interjections and information provided by the book's narrator. I will make the argument that I truly felt as if Potter has taken her writing to a whole new level with this story. There is a richness and complexity with the story that will appeal to older Middle Grade readers and even adults who are reading along with their children.
Kudos to Ellen Potter for an amazing new book and for continuing to write outstanding literature for middle grade readers.
For more information about Ellen Potter and her books, you can check out her website here: www.ellenpotter.com