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."
and
"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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Shorter Musings MG Fantasy

Here are some shorter musings on recent MG fantasy reads. Anya and the Dragon   by Sofiya Pasternack This book is fun. It is a book full of adventure, an obvious bad guy, some more complicated morally gray area characters, and a strong, brave heroine. It is also a book about friendships, community, and fighting for what is right. All things that usually work for me really well. While I enjoyed this, I did feel it was a little overlong and there were certain plot points at the end I didn't love. However, there were things I thought were done really well, such as Anya's Jewish faith and the idea that power needs to be challenged. In the end it was a middle of the road read for me, but it is one I will certainly be recommending to dragon and fantasy adventure lovers I know! R is for Rebel   by J. Anderson Coats This is tough because I usually really like Coats's books. I had such a hard time with this one though on so many levels. It's difficult to get into because t

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?

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 i

The Reece Malcolm List

The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding surprised me. Enough people I trust enjoyed it so I knew I would like it, but wasn't expecting to like it as much as I do. It is a really great book that is fun and has real heart and soul too. Synopsis: Things I know about Reece Malcolm: 1. She graduated from New York University. 2. She lives in or near Los Angeles. 3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week. 4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon. 5. She’s my mother. Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much. L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love. But the

Ash & Bramble

I have established that I love fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. You know what else I love? Books written by Sarah Prineas. Both her MG series are great favorites of mine. When she happened to mention on Twitter long ago that she was working on a YA, I followed closely eager to read whatever the result was. Ash & Bramble  is a fabulous work of genius. (I consider Sarah a friend as well as an author I love, and she sent me the ARC I'm reviewing here.) Pin lives in the Godmother's fortress sewing clothes with the other seamstresses tasked with producing the beautiful one of a kind ballgowns the Godmother uses for her mysterious purposes. Pin has no memories of her life prior to the day she begins her work as a slave to the Godmother's will. Everything that came before is a blank nothing. While she has no memories, she is still a person with a will and a fierce defiance to live her own life. She gets a chance to plan an escape when she is used as a foot model for