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The Silver Crown

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  2,208 Ratings  ·  239 Reviews
The Silver Crown explores the issues of good and evil in an original way, and raises many issues about relationships and the nature of love.
Paperback, 216 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Barn Owl Books (first published 1960)
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This book haunted my childhood memories for years, a mysterious specter, the title of which I couldn't recall. What incomplete details I had retained eventually proved adequate for discovery on the internet. Once I identified the text, it lingered in my unconscious until I happened to be in the juvenile fiction section of the public library one day in my mid 30s. Browsing an aisle, I turned around and saw the title on the spine before me, a spooky beacon of serendipity, as I had not been looking ...more
I dunno about other readers that have read this story, but I thought The Silver Crown was scary! The main character’s house gets mysteriously burned down, her family killed, a creepy man stalks her, ( minor spoilers??? -->) (view spoiler) Nobody can help them either, not even the police! Surely I can’t be the only one ...more
Vivid memories of the effect this book had on me when my teacher Mrs Leish read this to us in grade four - and finding the edition I had then, a photo-realist painting of Ellen wearing the silver crown itself, her blue eyes unblinking as she enters into a trance - made me dare to read it again.

Let's face it, going back to your taste in grade four often is a big no-no.

I choreographed a dance to "angel in the centrefold" around that time. I studied ballet in the sense it was compulsory at my gent
Dec 11, 2012 Abigail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Going through some old assignments, I discovered an old book report I wrote on this book when I was about twelve years old. Here is an excerpt-
The Silver Crown is one of the best books I have read. The descriptions used by the author were stunning in that they transported you there, following after Ellen as she went on her journey. Ellen is a very strong heroine. She still makes her share of mistakes, and she is someone almost anyone would want for a friend. I first borrowed this book from the l
Ash Krafton
Feb 03, 2013 Ash Krafton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ash by: Bought it at a yard sale for a quarter
Shelves: middle-grade
Why am I giving this book 5 stars? Because, quite simply...thirty years after first reading it, I still think about it.

It made that great of an impression on me. I didn't understand all the words and I couldn't even pronounce a bunch of them but, every once in a while, I think of that little girl when she puts the crown on her head and she BECOMES a queen.

That's all. A grown-up rememberance of a children's book. I'll never forget it.

Five stars for staying power.
Ellen Lee
Jul 26, 2015 Ellen Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The heroine of the book is named Ellen and Robert C. O'Brien wrote it. How could you go wrong?

You can't! I remember reading this book when I was 12 years old and my re-read leaves my memories intact. O'Brien starts the book off with a bang, when Ellen awakes on her birthday and finds a silver crown waiting for her. All those good memories of sitting under a tree in my grandma's garden in Delft, reading this book in one long perfect day, came back when I re-read it.

The secret behind the silver cr
Anna Engel
I can't decide what I think about this book; hence, the equivocal star rating. I fondly remember my third grade teacher reading this book to us at the end of each school day, but can't remember any other details from that time, other than that the crown and a sense of adventure.

Having read it again, I'm not sure it's suitable for elementary-age children! The protagonist's house burns down and her family is presumed dead -- triple homicide. Ellen is suddenly on her own. Then she gets into a car w
Aug 22, 2010 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review posted at by Laura Lynn:

My kids and I recently read “The Silver Crown” by Robert C. O’Brien and loved it. Intended for kids 8 and older, “The Silver Crown” is the story of Ellen who wakes up on her tenth birthday to find a silver crown on her pillow.

As Ellen already believes she is a queen, she takes the gift in stride and proudly wears it to the park. Events from that moment on are not what she expects. Her house burns down, sh
Jun 28, 2012 Sierra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NiMH was a favorite book of mine growing up. The Silver Crown has long been out of print and I was anxious to see if I would like this novel as well as NiMH. I started reading and was hooked by the end of the first chapter!

When Ellen Carrol wakes on her tenth birthday to find a silver crown on her pillow, she leaves the house without waking her family and walks to her favorite spot in the park where she pretends to be a queen. That is, until she hears fire engines sto
Fun and well-written. The writing is subtle and simple at the same time. I probably would've lost my mind for this when I was a kid. I enjoyed The Silver Crown very much.

A couple things bother me:
When the Big Bad Evil is revealed it's linked to then-contemporary real-world events like race riots and violence in Chicago. I'm ruminating but since I just finished the book a few minutes ago I'm not sure how to articulate why this bothers me so much. But it totally does.

"Chinaman," "Moslem hordes,"
Oct 11, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
I was surprisingly charmed by this children's book and wish I had discovered it when I was ten years old!

Despite the fact that Ellen is witness to the death of her entire family by fire, a bank robbery and a homicide within the first two chapters (!), it is good reading for the ages of 8 to 12 (and possibly older).

A mix of Ender's Game, The Lord of the Rings and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, this book was more forward thinking and less saccharine than most children's novels of the 1960's
Aug 09, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember picking this book up my last day of elementary school all old books were lined up on stage in the cafeteria I guess if the books weren't taken they were going to be destroyed or I don't know what was going to happen to them .well anyway I remember picking this book up and loving the description so I took it home with me .If you are looking for a book that has a sort of eerie but childlike fantasy about it this is the book for you .It scared me as a child but fascinated me too .I want ...more
Oct 19, 2010 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really really really enjoyed reading this book. David went and picked it up from the is a book that his 5th grade teacher read to him and he remembered really liking it, so we decided to go pick it up and read it and see if it was something we would recommend for my brother to read. it definitely is! It was a very captivating read, and kept me interested up until the end. Some of the events are a bit strange, and the ending didn't have quite the pizzaz that I was expecting but ove ...more
Julie L
Jul 26, 2015 Julie L rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s
This was a weird book. Somehow I missed reading it as a child and read it for the first time yesterday. At first I was in love--begins as a delightful children's tale with wonderful characters of Ellen, Otto, and Mrs. Fitzpatrick--you know you are reading a book that is uncommonly interesting and delightful--and you keep turning the pages.

Then you get to the end, the black building in the woods, and things get strange. Really strange, and I can't say it was in a good way. This was a unexpected e
Jan Memmott
One of the best books for children, ever! I found this at my 3rd grade Scholastic book fair in 1977, and bought it with my own money.This is possibly my favorite kid's book, easily in the top 5 of all time! The story is perfect! Ellen wakes up on her 11th birthday and discovers a silver crown on her pillow. She goes to the park to play, and her house burns down with her entire family in it! One crazy thing happens after another, and she is the only person who can fix things. It's adventurous, th ...more
Aug 22, 2010 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
I really love this book. I first fell in love when I was around Ellen's age when I first read the book. For me this was one of those books that I repeatedly borrowed from the library and would read it over and over. I was recently reminded of this book and now finally own my own copy. Reading it again as an adult did not disappoint. The story is beautifully crafted and the adventure/mystery really pulls you in. I was disappointed with the alternate ending that apparently was written for
(3.5) Remembered as the one I liked better than Mrs Frisby (I never was a child for the talking animals, Charlotte's Web was wasted on me), it's not until re-reading as an adult that I can see how strange a book this is. It kind of has a Cold War paranoia feel but it seems O'Brien was just more dubious generally about Science and the Human Race (a perfectly valid stance, I might add). The future must have seemed chancy in 1968*. What lingers more is how the story wavers between "ordinary childre ...more
Aug 15, 2015 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few weeks ago I saw trailer for a movie called "Z for Zachariah" and learned it was based on the book by Robert C O'Brien, known mostly for his "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH." It turns out he had written four works of fiction in his lifetime, and I thought it would be an interesting diversion to read all of them.

Notable for having a girl as the protagonist, The Silver Crown's message is deeply mixed. What's a 10 year old girl to do after her entire family is burned in a horrible house fir
Margaret Cortona
This lesser-known, out-of-print 1960s novel by author Robert C. O’Brien (Z is for Zachariah and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH) is singly my favorite book. It is the only book I have read more than once just for pleasure, and I have reread it nearly every year since I was seven or eight years old, each time enjoying it more. I was struck to find that reviews on every website I have explored echo one other – having discovered the book as a child, the reviewer remained “haunted” (that word is ch ...more
Benjamin Thomas
Nov 24, 2014 Benjamin Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I have this thing about not having read every single book that is on my shelves at home so I couldn't very likely say no to this one. It was part of my kid's homeschooling program years ago as recommended by the curriculum we were it must be good right?

While often disappointed in what others say young people must read to further their exposure to literature, this time I wasn't. I found this novel to be a fairly straight forward tale of adventure and fantasy with a young female pro
Feb 19, 2012 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, childrens, us
This book started out strong, but trailed off into an only moderately satisfying conclusion, and also a rather tangled concluding chapter (and alternate concluding chapter) which suggested that the author hadn't thought up any real justification for why the silver crown appears in the first place.

Very unusual for a children's story, with the plot involving but not actually exploring terrorism/random violence, and wobbling between magic and SF.
Rachel Dawson
Jan 17, 2015 Rachel Dawson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-top-25
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 23, 2012 Tracy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I randomly remembered this one day as a book I loved reading in 5th grade. It has recently been re-printed, so I was able to buy it and read it again.

This is still pretty good, but it was INCREDIBLE when I was 11 years old. I had a great school librarian that year, and I still enjoy re-reading the books she recommended to me all those years ago. I wish I could re-connect with her and thank her.
Sep 27, 2014 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was exciting for me to find a new book of this type that I really loved---new not in that it was recently written, but a book written in the era of most books I loved as a girl that I had never discovered. It's the kind of self-contained fairy tale with a rooting in reality that I love---not an open-ended, overly formula-filled one like you would find today!
Sparrow Alden
One of my favorite books! I just FOUND my 40-year-old copy and it welcomed me back like an old friend. There are child endangerment, magic, creepy strangers, and a strong girl main character who knows she's really a queen. Just. Fabulous. I strongly recommend it for 8 years old plus.
Feb 01, 2014 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this was one of my favorite books as a girl; i read it in sixth grade. what an impact: resourceful, brave and intelligent pre-teen girl main character, evil adults, and a diabolical sci-fi-ish machine. unfortunately, the pictured cover makes it look like a magic unicorn fantasy.
Dec 27, 2014 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a simple book. Very simple. I hesitate to criticize its simplicity because it is clearly aimed toward pre-teen audiences, but then isn't the Harry Potter series a set of children's books? The plot is jerky and uneven, the character development is nonexistent, and the premise is hastily explained and even more hastily wrapped up. I'm not sure that even ten-year-old me would have been satisfied with how quickly the "Machine" storyline was unraveled. The ending was even more sloppily done, ...more
Aug 15, 2013 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book as a child. It was read aloud to me at school and I read it on my own several times as well. I don't know what made me think of it now but I hope to reread it as an adult sometime soon.
Megan Hemmings
This is more of a 2 1/2 star rating. I loved it as a child and so the nostalgia in revisiting it was lovely but the plot definitely had a few holes and the writing could have been better.
Jul 01, 2015 Seth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
When I'm asked for a book suggestion, this is typically my first suggestion, regardless of the reader's preferred genres: this might be my favorite book of all time. It's a coming-of-age tale that has a beautiful mix of adventure, suspense, danger, and kindness. The protagonist Ellen and her found-friend Otto are put in dire circumstances, take them in stride, and despite failure, press on to safety.

Full of mysterious figures and helpful souls, the circumstances O'Brien places the characters in
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Robert Leslie Conly (better known by his pen name, Robert C. O'Brien) was an American author and journalist for National Geographic Magazine.

For more complete information on this author, please see:
More about Robert C. O'Brien...

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“C'était, pensa-t-elle, comme un doux peigne passant dans son cerveau, redressant les pensées et défaisant les nœuds.” 2 likes
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