Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

I was walking along Michigan Avenue between The Palmer House and the Hilton at NCTE only two months ago with my friend, Donalyn. As we passed the Art Institute she mentioned the Thorne Rooms. I felt a little na├»ve, I’m from this area and here she has traveled in from Texas, what are the Thorne Rooms? She turned to me and asked if I had read The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone? Hadn’t read it, hadn’t even heard of it. Donalyn recommended it and said my students would love it.

I finally got around to purchasing the book during Christmas Break. As I curled up on my couch one day to read it I immediately flipped to the back to read about the author. Imagine my surprise to learn that she lives just a few miles away! I read how she is interested in art, founded a school for girls in a town nearby, and this was her first book. I was already hooked.

The book opens up with two friends, Ruthie and Jack. They are going on a field trip to the Art Institute with their class. While there they go to the Thorne Room Exhibit and Jack stumbles onto a key. The key is magical and allows the two children to shrink and enter the miniature rooms.

While the plot was fast paced and kept my interest, I also enjoyed the characters. I loved Ruthie and Jack’s friendship. Neither of these two would be classified as “perfect”, they both make typical mistakes, but are true friends to each other. The supporting characters are also interesting people and I loved watching the dynamics between them. (And even more as I’ve begun to read the sequel this weekend.)

This is a book full of adventure, mystery, magic, and friendship. My students are exited to begin it as our next read aloud and I think it is the perfect addition to a middle grade library. 

Author's website: Marianne Malone

Reading level: 5th and up
Genre: Fantasy
Appeals to: Boys and Girls
Rating: Four Stars
Release date: Out now