Hilary's Reviews > The Kneebone Boy

The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter
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's review
Dec 30, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: adventure, contemporary-fiction, grades-5-6, grades-7-8, mystery
Read in December, 2010

The Hardscrabble children - Saucy Lucia, mysterious and silent Otto and know-it-all Max - have been without a mother for so long that they hardly remember her. Their father has only told them that she is gone. Rumors float around their small town about what happened to her. Perhaps their father killed her, or maybe Otto strangled her with the scarf he always wears around his neck. Other than that, their lives are unbearably normal. That is all about to change. When their father leaves for another of his trips (he travels the globe painting pictures of dethroned royalty), they are sent to London to stay with an Aunt. When they arrive and she isn't there they decide to do the unexpected and travel to the town of Snoring-By-The-Sea where they believe their great Aunt Haddie lives. When they get there they find out great Aunt Haddie isn't what they expected and that she lives in a castle folly - a small castle built for the children of the Kneebone family who occupied it for years. What follows is an adventure that they will never forget.
Not a book to be read a page or two at a time. It's best read in a few long sittings where the reader can emerge themselves entirely into the eerie feel of the story. The Hardscrabbles are a great brother-sister combo. They bicker and argue and continually tell each other that they are stupid or all other multitude of things. Potter has a poetic way with words, and the scenes leap of the page with images and sounds. She describes Kneebone castle as being lumpy, for example, or tires on a bike being soggy. The telling has an old fashioned feel to it - chapters have long titles like "In which we meet the Harscrabbles, unearth a triceratops bone and begin to like Lucia even more" that give the reader a hint of things to come, yet many details firmly lodge this story in the present. The kids wear "trainers", or say things like "throttle". Good for kids who like Roald Dahl or even to some extend Rachel Isadora (but a little edgier than the later).

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