What You Need to Know:|
• Walls Within Walls is a fabulous middle grade mystery by a debut author.
• A full-bodied, multi-character story with appropriate content for the age group it is written for, hooray!
• There is nothing too scary in this book but if your youngster is feeling a bit timid, you might want to wait
on this one until he is a bit less fearful. That said, it will not scare a child without issues.
The Smithfork kids are moving on up, moving on up, to the east side of New York City (that was for you Jeffersons fan out there). Their dad has hit it big with his video game business and they are leaving warm and cozy Brooklyn for the wilds of Fifth Ave. With their new home comes a nanny, busier parents, less family time and a vast mystery hidden inside the walls of the new apartment. Years and years ago when the pre-war apartment building was being built, the puzzle-loving builder, Mr. Post, hid a series of clues there so that his survivors could find his enormous fortune on the occasion of his death. But his children were never able to solve the puzzle and find the fortune. Years passed, and with the stipulation in Mr. Post's will that the walls never be touched by construction, the puzzle survived, albeit hidden behind new walls.
What a wonderful read. The story is so fast paced and compelling, I couldn't put this book down! It's also an ode to New York City and it's rich history. As a New Yorker I am always fascinated about the history that surrounds me, and this book positively celebrates it. Click here to read about the author's own "puzzling" Manhattan apartment in a NY TImes article.
The story has the Smithfork kids running around Manhattan by themselves, a fair amount of the time, while they deceive the neglectful adults in their lives. As mentioned above, this may raise some eyebrows, but that's not the point. We don't care that Harry gets on a runaway train, or that the children of Narnia jump inside a wardrobe and disappear. This story has got an "other worldly" quality to it which will delight young reader’s minds but will probably not cause any copy-cat behaviors. I do think there are a couple of scary incidents that might frighten a child who is susceptible to fears at this time so for those children, save this book until they are feeling braver. I am thinking specifically about the "man" the children see lurking about the apartment. If, as a parent, any of this sounds too crazy, read it aloud with your child. The story will provide you with multiple discussion points and you won't be disappointed! This book is a treat.
Finally, as with all great literature, the language and the story elements in this book are lyrical and mature and not the least bit condescending to our young readers. The author said on her Harper Collins page, "I am passionate about public education reform and the promotion of using elevated language around young people both in books and speech. Kids are so smart and dumbing language down for them is insulting!" Bravo!
2010, 368 pages
Adventure, Friendship, Mystery, Siblings
• Did their new fortune make the Smithforks happier?
• Can money make everything better?
• Do you think it is hard to move?
• How can you make starting in a new place easier for yourself or others?
• What kind of challenges does young Patrick face with his reading problems?
• Do you think Patrick's reading challenges make him appear less smart?
• Would you like to solve a real life puzzle like that?
• What do you think of the danger the children put themselves in to solve this puzzle? Do you think that is a good idea
in real life?
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