I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Tom Angleberger's soon to be published book Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset. I started it today and just finished it! I promise that there won't be any spoilers in this book talk!
Horton Halfpott is a smart, funny and fast paced mystery. In this story, a chain of events happen after M'Lady Luggertuck decides not to tighten her corset one morning. Because she isn't grumpy and cranky from being squeezed and pinched all day, she agrees to do something that will change the lives of everyone at the manor. The book is full of great characters- some you will love and some you will love to hate. I was concerned at first with the number of characters in the book, afraid that middle grade kids couldn't keep track of all of them, but after reading, I know it is not a concern at all. Tom obviously knows how to write for these kids- he doesn't weigh the story down with too many details. He tells the reader just enough, and then trusts that the reader will piece the story together. (Just like adults do!) The narrator of the story does a great job of moving the story along and assuring us that we don't need to know everyone's backstory.
There is one character that we meet that we want to know more about, and we do. Horton Halfpott is our main character and hero. He is kind, hard-working and dedicated. He is a good son and a great friend. He works for one penny a week in the kitchen of the manor to support his mother, siblings and sick father. He suffers at the hand (or spoon) of the vile cook and the evil Luther Luggertuck. Horton has more than one opportunity to make bad choices, but maintains his good heart. He falls in love with Celia (the heroine of this story), evades pirates, escapes from jail and solves the mystery of the stolen Lump (and wig, letters, a bust of Napoleon- oh and a monocle), with the help of some very sleuthy friends. (Is sleuthy even a word? It should be!) This book will appeal to both boys and girls, kids who love mysteries and kids who love funny stories. The humor in this book is smart funny- not silly, fart joke funny. Reluctant readers may struggle with the fast pace of the story and the number of characters. The narrator does use an Old English voice, which may prove difficult for kids who struggle. Kids will love the illustrations in the book that start each chapter. I love this book! I can't wait for the kids to be able to read it so we can talk about it! I still have some questions about some of the characters, so I am hoping there will be a sequel (I have to learn more about Bump!) Did I mention that the cover will glow in the dark? How cool is that?
*images from from hortonhalpott.com