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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Kneebone Boy, written by Ellen Potter. Feiwel and Friends, Macmillian. Raincoast. 2010. $19.50 ages 12 and up

"As she walked she called out and listened, until she gradually began thinking about that thing that none of them had wanted to think about. It's one thing to not think certain thoughts when you are with other people; it's a whole other thing to not think about them when you are by yourself and the wind is picking up."
Each of the three Hardscrabble children are clearly identifiable, having unique personalities which make them believable and real. The cover art makes them look slightly macabre; and there is a sense of mystery to their story. I like them all and a lot. While not likely to make you scream, there are some eerie and odd moments.

The narrator's voice sets the tone for the story, and keeps the reader aware of everything that is happening with the children as they venture forth and learn a family secret. We are told that Otto is the oldest of the three...a mute who communicates using an invented sign system and always clad in a neck scarf. Lucia, the middle child, lives life to the fullest and is totally aware of everything that Otto signs. Max is brilliant, the youngest and always certain that things will come out right. They live with their father in small town England, the victims of gossip and notoriety ever since their mother disappeared.

The three children have differing opinions about their mother. Lucia is sure that she is dead, while Max feels that she is missing and will one day reappear. Otto has nothing to say, or sign, about it. Perhaps he is keeping a secret! One of the three is the narrator, but we are not privy to who is telling their story. I was constantly making new guesses of my own as I read. I might know, but maybe not.

When their father goes on one of his many long trips, and their caregiver in London is not there when they get there, the children decide that adventure is the name of the game, and go off on their own. Castle Folly holds secrets and a grand dose of the adventure they (well, Lucia) have been seeking. While this part of the story holds excitement and trepidation, it also brings the siblings closer together. The bonds are tighter, the secret uncovered and readers have a memorable story full of great writing, compelling characters and a deep and lasting love.

I read this book because I had so enjoyed The Humming Room, and I am glad that I did.

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