July is the cruelest month for blogging. One (ie me) has so many things keeping reading and writing at bay-- things like major home improvements, house guests, a garden running amok, and a new kitten (pictures to come), and then there's the fact that the pile of books to be read had to be dispersed, and so I have an uncomfortable feeling that my sense of Being on Top of my tbr pile is False.
But regardless, I soldier on, and so I offer today a few brief thoughts on a book I was very happy to get at Book Expo America, even though it came out last year, because I hadn't read it yet and wanted to.
Horton Halfpott or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset, by Tom Angleberger (Amulet Books, 2011)
In an English manor where the servants are treated like scum by M'Lady Luggertuck and her knavish lump of a son, young Horton Halfpott toils in the scullery, scrubbing pots. But fortune will soon smile on young Horton, even though it might seem to Horton like more a grimace. When M'Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset for the first time in memory, the loosening spreads...and chaos strikes Smugwick Manor.
Who is the vile perpetrator of the mysterious thefts (including, most terribly of all, the theft of the precious Lump)? Who will win the affections of the rich heiress visiting an adjacent family? Will Horton win through despite the odds stacked against him?
It's fun and slapsticky and entertaining as all get out, with a very nicely judged balance between all the various shenanigans and the maintenance of Horton as a character one can truly care about. A good one for kids (or older readers) who value silliness, appreciate a humorously intrusive narrator, and enjoy an over the top mystery. I'm calling it fantasy, because even though it is one of those books in which nothing actually magical happens, there's not much in the book that really would happen in real life.
And there my power of critical thinking leaves me. And lo, I hear the voices of my children and their cousins, home from the lake...and these precious minutes of me getting home from work before them come to an end.
But it's a good book.