Author: Edgar, Elsbeth
Laura is an outsider, more interested in writing, drawing, or being with family than in other teens, but she is drawn to new student Leon as they explore the mysteries of her old house.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 142773
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 3.70
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 53261
Common Core Standards
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 6 → Reading → CCR College & Career Readiness Anchor Standards fo
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Kirkus Reviews (01/01/11)
School Library Journal (02/01/11)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (02/11)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 02/01/2011 Fourteen-year-old Laura Horton is enchanted with the crumbling old mansion that she and her artist parents have made their new home, but she is less enchanted with her new classmates. They tease her about her house being haunted, and they soon begin to tease her about Leon Murphy, another new kid who, like Laura, is too introverted and thoughtful to fit in with the other kids. A chance remark of Leon’s grandmother about the former owner of Laura’s house sets Laura on a quest to discover all she can about the elegant Italian gentleman who built the residence for the woman he loved, and Leon soon joins her. As they search the nooks and crannies of the house, they discover a sad tale of thwarted romance while building a nascent one of their own. The straightforward prose, focalizing through a thoughtful, sensitive girl methodically working her way through a house’s secrets, brings mild echoes of Gaiman’s Coraline (BCCB 11/02); there is no hint of horror here, though, just the absorbing story of two lonely children building a friendship while solving a mystery. The love story the children uncover is pure L. M. Montgomery, with two romantic souls finding each other, facing family prejudices, and planning a life together only to have it shattered by early death; discovering the story helps Leon through his own grief over the loss of his mother and his father’s temporary descent into alcoholism and despair. It also strengthens Laura to face the jibes of classmates, as she learns that the sorrows of the world can be much greater than being teased by classmates. Give this, then, to fans of Montgomery (or Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s temperate tales of secrets) and those who can appreciate the power of story in its gentler incarnations. KC - Copyright 2011 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 02/01/2011 Quiet Laura feels decidedly different from her classmates. Though an outsider herself, she initially lacks the courage to be seen with newcomer Leon, who lives near her home (known officially as the Visconti House and unofficially as the haunted house). Vacant before her parents bought it with plans to restore its faded grandeur someday, the shabby mansion begins to give up its many secrets when Laura and Leon join forces to explore the place and research its history. Convincing dialogue and well-drawn characters, both major and minor, bring energy to the story, which focuses on Laura, her slowly developing friendship with Leon, and the changes brought about by the experiences they share. The house’s history tinges the quiet story with faded romance and sadness, but that tone is counterbalanced by the increasing vividness and confidence of Laura’s character. A fine, sensitive first novel by an Australian writer. - Copyright 2011 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2011 Gr 5–8—Two lonely grade-eight kids in rural Australia develop a friendship as they work together to unlock a mystery. Laura feels like an outcast because of her family's artist lifestyle, her curly hair and bushy eyebrows, and the decaying mansion she calls home. Leon, newer to the area, is ostracized for living with his grandmother, the rumors that circulate about his father being in prison, and his shabby appearance. The friendship between the two progresses slowly because Laura, desperate to fit in, is embarrassed to be seen with Leon. As they work together to uncover the history of Laura's house and Mr. Visconti—its original owner—and his tragic love story, Laura learns to understand the value of friendship. Part realistic fiction, part mystery, and part romance, Edgar's first novel is a good blend of simple prose and descriptive imagery and language, and the story behind Mr. Visconti and the house offers some interesting twists. Readers will identify with Laura's desire to fit in and root for the friendship that develops between the two characters.—Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ - Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.