Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Diamond in the Window

The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton was a book I had never even heard of until it made the Fuse 8 Top 100 Poll. I in no way feel obligated to read every book on the list that I haven't. The synopsis for this one intrigued me enough to see if my library was still circulating a copy. And they were. Yay for my library!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Eddy and Eleanor Hall have always known that their family was a bit out of the ordinary. After all, they live in one of the most remarkable houses in all of Concord. But they never guessed just how extraordinary their house really is, or what tremendous secrets about their family's past it holds. That is, until they discover the magical attic room with its beautiful stained-glass window, abandoned toys, and two perfectly made-up, empty beds that seem to be waiting perhaps for two children just like themselves....

This book has several elements I enjoy when reading. Siblings on a quest, an old house to explore, secrets to uncover, unexplained mysteries, evil bankers.  All good stuff. Eddy and Eleanor are delightful characters who respond to the mystery in exactly the way you would expect children to do. Eddy has dreams of being a good and honorable President of the United States one day. Eleanor loves Little Women and enacts a fake courtship between Louisa May Alcott and Henry Thoreau. I enjoyed them both, probably because the way they play reminds me a great deal of how my own children play. (Though mine are younger and, as I type this, enacting some jungle adventure in the backyard using the filled up wading pool, the swingset, and the sprinkler.) 

There is a mystical element to the magic in the book wrapping it all up in dreams that makes it a bit bizarre. I think most child readers would find this to be wonderfully strange, exactly like real dreams, and accept that there was no need for much explanation. I thought it was a bit bizarre and the ending rushed into happily ever after, but that is because I am no longer the optimistic youth I once was. 

The Diamond in the Window is the first book in The Hall Family Chronicles that includes the Newbery Honor book The Fledgling.

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