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The Orphan of Awkward Falls

3.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  202 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
When thirteen-year-old Josephine moves to Awkward Falls she can't help but snoop around the dilapidated mansion next door. Inevitably, she is captured by the house s strange inhabitants: an ancient automaton who serves as a butler, a cat patched together with a few odd parts, and most surprising of all, a boy named Thaddeus Hibble. Meanwhile, Fetid Stenchley the most feare ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 19th 2011 by Chronicle Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 514)
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Oct 14, 2011 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own
This book sounded like a lot of fun for my kids and I just in time for Halloween. It touts a whimsically grotesque villain, an eccentric mad scientist (who just happens to be a young orphan boy), a robot butler, a talking cat and a lot of adventure. The illustrations looked creepy and the premise sounded fun.

The publishers indicate that this book is aimed at 8-12 year old kids. From the first pages of the book, I must adamantly say that age range is WRONG! There is no way I'd want my nearly 8 ye
Maggie V
This was a strange and odd book, but in a very good way. Starting a not-graphic novel with a short sketch of a gruesome murder is an interesting (if a bit jarring) way to open a book. The style reminded me a bit of Roald Dahl mixed with The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster mixed again with The Order of the Odd-Fish by James Kennedy. A whimsical, potentially scary, but things eventually turn out fine (though not necessarily happy) in the end type of story. The sketches were a bit jarring, b ...more
Feb 18, 2012 David rated it did not like it
I borrowed this from a friend who received it as an Early Reviewer book. It looked promising as a YA sci-fi/horror novel, but I found that the execution fell flat, and I found it a struggle to stay interested in the story.

Josephine and her crunchy, enlightened parents move into a creepy old dilapidated house in a small town in northern Canada. Josephine makes friends with an orphaned boy-scientist who lives in the creepy old dilapidated mansion next door, and he turns out to be not what either o
Apr 08, 2012 Tami rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
The Orphan of Awkward Falls has me a little confused. Although I have classified it as fantasy/science fiction (and it certainly IS that) the story crosses the line into the horror genre. My confusion is not with the story, itself, but with how to write about it.

Would I recommend it? Not to everyone. There are some amazing characters: a genetically engineered child living on sugared and processed foods and being looked after by an ancient robot; Josephine, a twelve-year-old vegetarian newly relo
Mad scientists, automatons, and lunatics abound in Keith Graves’ The Orphan Of Awkward Falls, a fun speculative fiction middle grade book. I was totally over the moon to read The Orphan Of Awkward Falls because A) I love books that have orphans in them and B) The Book Smugglers gave it a good review. Hopes were high you guys. Although this book is not making my favorites list any time soon, I did have a good experience reading it. I would not hesitate to recommend that middle school librarians a ...more
Pop Bop
Feb 14, 2015 Pop Bop rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Fun Frankenstein for the Tween Set

Some middle grade books, especially horror/action books, talk down to their intended audience; but some take pretty standard bits and pieces and stitch them together in a fashion that elevates the genre and leads the reader to improve his or her own game as well. This book is of the rarer latter variety. At every point where it could step up or step down, it goes higher.

Take the heroine, Josephine. She is introduced to us as a snarky tween who is determined to
May 05, 2013 Stacey rated it liked it
Very silly, cute and a little gross. I loved the main character, Josephine, but wish there had been more resolution for the robot.
Plainsboro Public Library
Keith Graves’ The Orphan of Awkward Falls is an entertaining and page-turning novel, narrated with the cheeky and sometimes disturbing point of views of characters that are sure to leave a lasting impression on readers. Graves begins his story with thirteen year old Josephine, who is yet again moving due to her parents’ work. This time around, Josephine and her parents are transferring to the small Canadian town of Twittington - famous for its large, haunting asylum as well as a popular industry ...more
Canadian Reader
Feb 23, 2015 Canadian Reader rated it really liked it
Gruesome but lively. Dark but humorous. The Orphan of Awkward Falls tells the story of twelve-year-old Josephine Cravitz's arrival in the northern Manitoba town of Awkward Falls, where her scientist father has taken a university research position, at roughly the same time that a violent cannibalistic inmate (Fetid Stenchley) has escaped from the Asylum for the Dangerously Insane. Josephine discovers a mysterious boy genius living in the dark rundown mansion next door, supposedly the grandson of ...more
There's just so much that could've been better about this book.

The premise is delightful: orphan mad scientist is chased by unhinged cannibal lunatic and fights back with the assistance of an undead cat, a robot and a pre-teen girl.

But therein also lies the problem.

Reading the synopsis of this book makes it seem like Josephine's the protagonist, and if she is, it's only in the very loosest sense of the word, because the book is really all about Thaddeus J. Hibble (boy genius), Celsius Hibble (w
Bruce Gargoyle
Full review at http://thebookshelfgargoyle.wordpress...

Ten Second Synopsis:
Josephine discovers more than moose on her trip into the wild north of Canada - an orphaned, pre-teen mad scientist for one.

This is a super-original book with fantastically creepy illustrations and quirky, but likeable characters. The story drew me in immediately and though this is pitched at a middle-grade audience, with the protagonist being thirteen, there’s a lot here that is far more suited to the adult reader with a
Kelly Kriner
Feb 22, 2015 Kelly Kriner rated it liked it
I have let this sit on my mind for a couple of days, but am still unsure of how I want to review The Orphan of Awkward Falls. Initially I was thrilled. All of the elements for an exciting story are present. Graves' words create an irresistible setting and characters. Josephine is determined to be angry and bored with Awkward Falls but can't stop herself from exploring the intrigue of an old photo she finds in her new room and the shadow in the deliciously creepy mansion next door. Meanwhile, rea ...more
Dec 03, 2011 Bookworm1858 rated it really liked it
I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book, other than hopefully a charming MG story. I was also pleased to discover that there were illustrations included as I read through this weird tale.

Josephine has just moved to Awkward Falls, location of an insane asylum housing cannibal Fetid Stenchley, who manages to escape through a very poorly planned event. That is unknown to her when she stumbles upon the titular orphan, Thaddeus, a mad scientist who lives with his grandfather's robot servan
Jessica at Book Sake
A teenage girl and her parents move to Awkward Falls as her dad has changed jobs yet again. Josephine is determined that this will be the most boring place ever and doesn’t know how she will survive until school starts. In no time the craziness starts as she sees something outside in the fog. She goes out in the middle of the night to take a look and ends up at her neighbor’s house. The house is inhabited by a little boy, his robot manservant, and a talking cat…well he’s mostly a cat. This boy, ...more
Sandra Stiles
Dec 20, 2011 Sandra Stiles rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grades, horror
The Orphan of Awkward Falls – Keith Graves

Publisher: Chronicle Books
Pages: 256
Source: I received the book from LibraryThing in exchange for a review
Genre: MG Horror

On Amazon this book as listed for ages 8 – 12. On the author website it states it might not be suitable for anyone under the age of 12. I will say this. You must know your child or students reading likes and dislikes, their ability to handle certain material. The day after I received this book I took it to school and shared part of it
Aug 05, 2011 TheBookSmugglers rated it really liked it
Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers:

Thirteen year old Josephine Cravitz is determined to be mad. Her parents have uprooted her yet again – just as she was getting used to life and friends in balmy Madison, Wisconsin, she’s forced to move to what she thinks of as the Arctic Circle (aka the far reaches of northern Manitoba, Canada). In the small town of Awkward Falls, renowned for its sauerkraut (a strange-smelling delicacy for which there is a festiv
Anna Dye
Sep 29, 2011 Anna Dye rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most charming books I have read for a while. It has a Halloween-y feel to it and kids from 7 years old on will love it. It is written in an easy English, lightly witty and flowingly well done. It will be a refreshing read for all boys and girls who don’t get scared of their shadows. It has the most intriguing cover, a perfect picture of what you will find inside the pages of this book. Released just in time for Halloween, I recommend it as a “must have,” for every English spea ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Rebecca rated it liked it
I'm back and forth between 2 and 3 stars on this one. On the one hand I really enjoyed the middle grade aspects of this book. I liked the idea of the little boy who is kind of a mad scientist being raised by a robot. Josephine and her family reminded me a bit of The Books of Elsewhere. Those parts of the story were great.

I liked the overall idea of the story - the plot was interesting and enjoyable.

On the other hand, there are significant parts of this book that I would not deem appropriate for
Nov 27, 2011 Laurie rated it it was amazing
This book, aimed at kids between 8 and 12, is one of those that I wish had been around when I was a kid. The main character is a 12 year old girl who is smart and independent. The parents, unlike those in so many kids books, *aren’t* clueless idiots who need to be saved by the kids, but are quick on the uptake and capable of action. Add in the orphan- living alone in a decaying Victorian style house, complete with laboratory- and his two companions, an aging robot with memory issues and a stitch ...more
Patricia Lusher
Jan 02, 2016 Patricia Lusher rated it really liked it
An enjoyably strange book, the orphan of Awkward Falls is Thaddeus Hibble, a strange boy who lives with a robot and a talking cat in an old mansion thought to be deserted. Josephine, the only child of a liberal vegetarian couple who have all moved to northern Manitoba, investigates the mansion next door, only to find Thaddeus and his strange companions. Thaddeus' dead grandfather had found a way to revive dead people and animals by taking parts of other people and animals he had collected. A dun ...more
Samantha-Ellen Bound
This was a grim, gory and immensely readable little story. It is easy to get sucked in and once you’re hooked, the pages fly. There is a great deal of adventure, a bit of sly hilarity (at least for kids) and lots of spooky and gruesome details to keep the enthusiastic reader happy.

I did have a bit of trouble with some of the content – I feel like some of it wasn’t appropriate for the intended age group, there were a few parts where I thought it was just a little bit too sick for kids. I wouldn’t
Tasha Mahoney
Jan 04, 2013 Tasha Mahoney rated it really liked it
Shelves: mommas-maybes
As a family we are very open to anything. I was reading and understanding Stephen King under the blankets with a glow worm when I was 9 because there were no books like this when I was a child. I was forbidden to read such things and it fueled my macabre hunger even more. This is a very clever blend of horror and syfy and well written. It pulls at a moms heart strings a child would never understand but it offers them a sneek peek into what's out there for them in the big kid literary world as th ...more
Ashley Head
May 16, 2012 Ashley Head rated it it was amazing
Thirteen-year-old Josephine is not exactly thrilled to move to Awkward Falls, a town known only for its sauerkraut and its insane asylum, but she can't resist snooping around the dilapidated mansion next door. She finds more than she bargains for when she is captured by the strange characters who live ther:an ancient automaton who serves as a butler, a cat pached together with a few odd parts, and a bou genius named Thaddeus. Meanwihile, Fetid Stenchley, the most feared patient in the Asylem for ...more
Sandy Runions
May 04, 2016 Sandy Runions rated it it was amazing
Books are dreams and nightmares, an opportunity to experience life without risk. The difference? People remember books. I find an up and coming mad scientist who brings dogs and cats back to life for old ladies a fine young man.
Jaime Leroy
Jul 10, 2012 Jaime Leroy rated it really liked it
Josephine moves to Awkward Falls and goes exploring. When exploring the mansion next door, she meets a boy named Thaddeus, who lives there all by himself with no one for company but his robot butler and the cat he has raised from the dead. He used to live there with his grandfather, the famous scientist, Celcius Hibble, but his grandfather was murdered by his former assistant, Fetid Stenchley. So when the cannibalistic Stenchley escapes from the towns’ asylum and comes after Thaddeus, craziness, ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Dana rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
My 8 year old, who gives almost everything a 5 star rating, gave this a 3. He said it was really scary. I agree with the person who said the age range is off.
Peggymsu Valentine Colombo
Aug 10, 2014 Peggymsu Valentine Colombo rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this. The opening line caught my attention and the characters were quirky. It has monsters and a bad guy, but is not too macabre for young readers.
Jun 20, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Good book.. but I don't know if I'd read this to kids. Maybe I'm a bit out of the loop - I don't have any kids - but when I think back to when I was 9-12, this book would have been pretty intense.

The story is pretty great, even as an adult, I was drawn to the plot and the fun/zany characters. But what concerns me is the topics they cover: cannibalism, an extreme mental hospital, a lobotomy-type surgery, mutated animals, some sort of split personality, and a slightly unhealthy focus on veganism
Jul 24, 2012 Maureen rated it liked it
Shelves: youth

I wanted to like this book because of the amazing black-and-white artwork interspersed throughout that reminded me of The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, but I lost interest in the first chapter. I am sure that some children, who enjoy scarier tales, will like this book but a character who is a cannibal was a bit much for me. I also found that I didn't feel any empathy for several of the main characters - especially Stenchley and Thaddeus. As I read the book some chapters left me ri
May 13, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it
The Orphan of Awkward Falls is a children's horror/dark humor book. It has fantastic illustrations, and I laughed out loud several times while reading it. Some parents may find the subject matter to be too dark/scary for their children, since the book is written for, perhaps, 5th graders. However, I think most kids will be fine with the content and find the book very fun. It is no scarier than R.L. Stine, and no grosser than Roald Dahl. I read both of these authors when I was a child, and I THIN ...more
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