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Saturday, April 28, 2012

100 Cupboards, written by N. D. Wilson. Random House, 2007. $7.99 ages 12 and up

"Henry got down on his hands and knees and crawled into the clock. There was a back to it. Henry's head pushed against it and Henry went nowhere. He sat back up and took a deep breath to prevent panic. Richard watched as Henry closed his eyes, reached into the clock, gripped the rope with his left hand and felt his way along it."

I am literally just finished this first book in the series.  I have the next two sitting on my desk and when I am finished a What's New? workshop this afternoon, I will be moving on to Book Two, Dandelion Fire. N. D. Wilson and his exemplary writing and wondrous characters ensure that!

The cover grabs you by the hand and hauls you in...the cupboards are dark, and eerie. The cat's golden eyes have a hypnotizing quality. Move forward past the map of the cupboards, the tree, the key, the compasses and a facing page key to each door and you step into Henry, Kansas:

"Henry, Kansas is a hot town. And a cold town. It is a town so still there are times when you can hear a fly trying to get through the window of the locked-up antique store on Main Street. Nobody remembers who owns the antique store, but if you press your face against the glass, like the fly, you'll see that whoever they are, they don't have much beyond a wide variety of wagon wheels. Yes, Henry is a still town. But, there have been tornadoes on Main Street. If the wind blows, it's like it won't ever stop. Once it's stopped, there seems to be no hope of getting it started again."

100 Cupboards is fun, it's fast and it's fantasy. It begins with Henry and his arrival in Henry, Kansas where his aunt and uncle live with their three daughters. Henry has come to stay with Aunt Dotty and Uncle Frank because his parents have been kidnapped while on a bike trip in Colombia. It takes no time at all for Henry to feel happy in his new home, and eager to know his new family, which also means he feels guilty about feeling that way. He has been taught to fear everything up until now. As he slowly begins to try some of the things that he wants to playing baseball, meeting Zeke and other kids his age, he becomes more assertive and braver. These are characteristics that will stand him in good stead as he adapts to his new life.

When he discovers the cupboards that have been hidden on an attic wall in the bedroom that has become his, Henry has no idea what adventure, mystery and danger awaits. There are 99 cupboards there, and one door that will lead him through to what is hidden behind the other much smaller doors. The compasses will help determine one world from another.

But, where is the 100th door? In trying to find the door that will lead him back to where he truly came from, Henry will receive letters that threaten him, meet a witch with evil and powerful magic, risk his life to find one cousin, Henrietta, who has passed through a cupboard door and into another place and time, visit scary and ominous other worlds where evil lurks and countless thrilling adventures await.

He moves with alarming speed from one place to another, finding new friends and also foes. And this is the FIRST cupboard. Imagine what's in store for his future! I love the magic, the anticipation, the originality of the writing and all (well, almost) of the people I met while reading this fine book. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am off to Cupboard Two!

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