Skip to main content

The Kneebone Boy

Looking at the cover of The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter you might assume that it is a fantasy.  I sure did.  Fortunately that assumption was corrected for me before I read it or it might have been rather disappointing.  It is straight up contemporary fiction.  It's mysterious and strange (in a good way) contemporary fiction with a wonder of its own.  It reminded me of E. Nesbit's novels, but modern and with a mildly gothic feel.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Life in a small town can be pretty boring when everyone avoids you like the plague. But after their father unwittingly sends them to stay with an aunt who’s away on holiday, the Hardscrabble children take off on an adventure that begins in the seedy streets of London and ends in a peculiar sea village where legend has it a monstrous creature lives who is half boy and half animal. . . .

From looking at the cover you might also come to the conclusion that those kids are creepy an bizarre.  They are not creepy, but they are a bit bizarre.  Otto doesn't speak (by choice), Lucia is uncomfortably forthright and Max is super smart and likes to sit on the roof.  This is their story and I have a great love for books about siblings who adventure, suffer, and succeed together so I was expecting to like the Hardscrabbles.  I was not expecting them to earn a place in my heart next to the Bastables, Pevensies, and Penderwicks, but they have.

The adventures of the Hardscabble children will captivate young readers.  What child doesn't love the idea of being on their own in a big city?  Or living in a miniature version of a castle complete with its own carousel?  Or finding and exploring a secret passageway?  Or brilliantly outwitting all the grownups?  These kids argue and fuss with each other like any other group of siblings.  There are characteristics in them all kids could identify with, but at the same time they are so different, and having such a strange adventure that their story is engrossing.  It is the perfect combination.

I really enjoyed the style of the writing here as well.  From the beginning it pulls you in:
"There were three of them.   Otto was the oldest, and the oddest.  Then there was Lucia, who wished something interesting would happen. Last of all was Max, who always thought he knew better.  They lived in a small town in England called Little Tunks.  There is no Big Tunks.  One Tunks was more than enough for everyone."

This is one of those books where the story is told in third person by a first person narrator who provides commentary for the reader.  Normally that type of narration drives me nuts, but it worked for me in this book, probably because the narrator is one of the children and not some unknown supercilious adult.  The narrator's identity is meant to be secret, as this is the story of all three children and not just one.  The narrator, not necessarily agreeing with this edict, gives the reader plenty of information to make an accurate identification.  I absolutely love the narrator's wit, such as:
"They hooted and laughed and staggered around like a pack of drunken idiots as the Hardscrabbles walked by.  If I ever become like this when I am a teenager, I hope someone smothers me in my sleep."
"Here is my most important message to you:  All great adventures have moments that are really crap."
The ending is a bit rushed, which I'm noticing a lot in books lately.  It is described in the book as bittersweet and I think young readers would agree.  As a mother, I found it to be really really sad.  Don't worry, everyone, including the cat, is alive and well in the end.  Happy even.

If you know a kid who loves adventure, humor, and mystery then put this book in their hands.  If you are a lover of those things yourself, you should read it too.


Popular posts from this blog

Future Favorite Friday: June 2018

I take the 2nd Friday of every month to highlight some upcoming releases I am looking forward to that I hope are Future Favorites. Feel free to do your own post, just please link back to my blog and tell me about your post in the comments.

Two Naomis was one of my favorite reads of 2016 so I was understandably excited it's getting a sequel. 

In this sequel to Two Naomis, now that Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi E.’s dad are married, the girls have learned to do a lot of things together, like All-Family Sunday dinners, sixth-grade homework, navigating the subway system by themselves, and visiting their favorite bakeries. Until sixth grade in a new school presents a whole new set of surprises and challenges.

Trusting her gut has worked for Naomi E. all her life, and she figures that it will be an asset to her role as a Peer Mediator—until she realizes how much of the job requires the Art of Compromise, which she’s only just starting to get used to at home.

Naomi Marie is excited about maki…

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

From Most Recent to Least:

What books have recently caught your eye?

Lovely War

When I first heard about Lovely War by Julie Berry, I remember thinking, "Whoa, that's ambitious." And it is. The scope and depth of this story with all of its intricacies and thematic elements is massive. Berry manages to hold it all together beautifully. She managed it so beautifully that it is so far my favorite YA read of 2019.

The ecstasies and the wounds of love were Aphrodite's work. Forging passions was what she was born to do. She, too, was a welder, a mistress of fire of a different sort, working in materials more powerful and resistant than carbon and iron. And what did that toil do to her?

In 1942 New York City while men are partying on the eve of shipping off to war, a stunning couple arrives at a hotel in the midst of the revelry and departs for their room followed by an overly enthusiastic bellboy. But none of these figures are as they appear. The couple is Aphrodite and Ares on a secret assignation that turns out to be not so secret as the bellboy is Ap…

Shorter Musings YA Realistic

Here are some shorter musings on some recent YA realistic fiction reads.

American Pandaby Gloria Chao
I bumped this up my TBR list after seeing several really favorable reviews for it in a row. I'm so glad I did. This is an excellent story of the child of immigrants trying to find her place in the world. Mei struggles with how to be herself and the perfect, obedient daughter her parents expect her to be. They have already officially disowned her brother. Mei's journey is one of self-discovery, which is interesting since it is advertised as more fluffy and more of a romance that it truly is. (There is a romance, but it is definitely not the central relationship in the book.) I really loved how much this story was about Mei's relationship with her mom and the complications of relating to each other.

Fame, Fate, and the First Kissby Kasie West
I enjoyed this as the quick, fluffy read it is intended to be. Kasie West is the ultimate at YA romance that is perfect for any age YA re…

TTT: Auto-Buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This Week's Topic: Auto-Buy Authors

Here are my auto-buy authors and their most recent or coming soon release. Also, I got stuck on twelve and couldn't cut it down any further. So it's really Top Twelve Tuesday today. Or Thirteen rather as I sort of combined Emma and Genevieve. (I auto-buy all their individual projects too.)

Who are some authors whose books you buy no matter what?

(I don't know what it says about me that there is only one male author on this list, but I don't dislike whatever it is.)