Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Magnificent Middle Grade Week: The Orphan of Awkward Falls

by:  Keith Graves
published by:  Chronicle Books
published date:  September 28, 2011

When thirteen-year-old Josephine moves to Awkward Falls she can't help but snoop around the dilapidated mansion next door. She finds a little more than she bargained for when she is captured by the strange characters who live there: an ancient automaton who serves as a butler, a cat patched together with a few odd parts, and most surprising of all, a boy named Thaddeus Hibble. Meanwhile, the most feared patient in the Asylum for the Dangerously Insane is on the loose. Fetid Stenchley has escaped in the most dramatic fashion, and there is only one thing on his mind...revenge. Unfortunately for Thaddeus and Josephine, he's headed their way. Can these unlikely friends stop Stenchley before he destroys them all? Full of hilariously spooky details, surprising twists, and haunting black and white illustrations, Keith Graves delivers a suspenseful and engaging first novel. Inspired by the classic tales of Frankenstein and mad scientists, with a splash of contemporary technology, the wonderfully tense action and gory descriptions will hook boys from the start, while Josephine provides a clever and unique heroine that girls will adore.

I will admit from the very beginning I only read the first 100 pages of this book.  I got a copy of it at ALA thinking that my 4th grader might like it (or the 6th grader down the street).  I started reading it first for MMG Week.  I'm glad I did. 

In the first 100 pages there were a bevy of reason why I don't think I'd want my daughter to read this book until she was older, if at all.   It starts off in an insane asylum for criminals.  Fetid Stenchley is not only a murderer but he's a cannibal as well and after an open skull electric shock treatment that is witnessed by dozens, he escapes.  Josephine moves to the same town that this is going on.  The her first night she's taken against her will by a robot to the basement of a strange boy that does Frankenstein like experiments. 

The recommended ages of this book are 9-12.  I personally don't think cannibalistic murderers are appropriate for children of that age range. 

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