Lynn's Reviews > The Sixty-Eight Rooms

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone
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Feb 10, 2012

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bookshelves: ys-books
Read from February 08 to 10, 2012

I love books that have a local connection, and this one certainly does. When my husband and I moved to suburban Chicago in the late 1970s, the Thorne Rooms in The Art Institute, were one of the first "city" things we explored, and I loved them, so I was really looking forward to reading this story featuring the rooms.

The Thorne Rooms are 68 miniature rooms, each set in a different historical period, from a 16th century castle to an 18th century French villa to a Colonial American homestead, and more. They are amazingly detailed with intricate paintings and portraits on the walls, toys on the floor and quill pens in tiny ink pots on the desks.

In this time-travel, mystery adventure, Ruthie and her best friend Jack go on a field trip with their sixth-grade classmates to the Art Institute and end the day visiting the Thorne Rooms. While Ruthie looks from room to room, entranced by how real they appear, Jack finds an unusual key on the floor.

On a return trip to the museum, they discover that with they key, they can shrink to 5 inches tall - the perfect size to explore the rooms! Not only do they learn about the people that lived in rooms like these, but they discover several mysteries.

How could a tiny yellow No. 2 pencil end up in the desk drawer of the 18th century French room and what was the little pink plastic barrette doing in the Colonial American kitchen?
Why did a famous photographer stop taking pictures and become a guard at the Art Institute?
Will Jack's mother find money to pay the rent, or will Ruthie's best friend have to move away?
All of these questions, and more, are answered in The Sixty-Eight Rooms.

Although the writing isn't as good, I would recommend this books to kids who like Blue Balliett's books about Chicago - Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3 and The Calder Game.
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