Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Splendors and Glooms

by Laura Amy Schlitz
January 2013

In 2008 Schlitz won the Newbery Medal for her non-fiction book Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Medieval Village.
I didn't read that. I wanted a fiction book to win that year. I'm not sure Good Masters gets checked out very often.

But, Laura Amy Schlitz has won another Newbery - an honor this time - for a book that I will be recommending to many children. I think that any kids that like Ink Heart will enjoy this one.

Puppets and Victorian England. How can you go wrong with such a combination?  It took me a bit to get into the book, probably because I had other very interesting books on my table at the same time. But once I did I loved this one.

"The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini’s act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants.
Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack — adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara’s life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall.
As they seek to puzzle out Clara’s whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it’s too late. "

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