|Door by the staircase|
Author: Marsh, Katherine
Happy to be adopted at last, twelve-year-old orphan Mary Hayes soon learns a terrifying secret about her new mother, the mysterious Madame Z.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.10
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 178917
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.60
Points: 16.0 Quiz: 67906
Kirkus Reviews (+) (10/01/15)
School Library Journal (+) (12/01/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/02/16)
The Hornbook (00/01/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 12/01/2015 Gr 4–6—When readers meet orphan Mary Hayes, she's clawing her way up a chimney to escape from the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies. Miraculously, she succeeds—but only until a freak whirlwind causes the cruel headmistress to spot her out a window. After she's brought back in and confined to a closet, Mary fears that she's doomed—that is, until a mysterious woman named Madame Z appears the next morning, wanting to adopt an orphan. Mary eagerly volunteers, and without much thought, Madame Z agrees. Mary's new home is called Iris, a town with a sideshow flair. She soon meets a magician's son named Jacob, a fast friend and ally. Before long, Mary realizes that amid all of the town's razzle-dazzle, there's also real magic. She's astounded to learn that Madame Z is a witch, complete with a talking cat. But Mary senses that something is off, and, indeed, the groundskeeper reveals that Madame Z is actually Baba Yaga—a powerful witch who eats children. Her fierce sense of self-preservation still intact, Mary immediately starts plotting her escape with Jacob. But as the adventure unfolds, it becomes clear that Baba Yaga may not be the enemy after all. Marsh has crafted a sparkling tale full of adventure, magic, and folklore. It's a delightful mash-up of stories and traditions; imagine Little Orphan Annie crossed with Russian folklore, plunked down in the spiritualist community of Lily Dale, NY, with a dash of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away on top. VERDICT Perhaps not a story for reluctant or struggling readers—it's relatively demanding in terms of length and vocabulary—but for those willing to tackle a rich and layered text, there's much here to enjoy.—Amy Holland, Irondequoit Public Library, NY - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 12/15/2015 What starts as a classic orphan story soon morphs into a beguiling novelization of the Russian Baba Yaga tale. Mary is clever, resourceful, and brave. When her attempt to escape a cruel orphanage fails, she jumps at the chance to be adopted by Madame Z, a strange old woman with a Slavic accent. Mary’s new life is full of strange, savory dishes, and she begins to doubt Madame Z’s identity and intentions. Mary befriends a magician’s son in a nearby village, and together they discover the true magic that hides behind stage magic and tricksters—and a secret that may prove Mary’s suspicions about Madame Z right. Engaging characters and a suspenseful plot combine for a thoroughly satisfying read. Evocative imagery adds to the magic: soon after Mary learns Madame Z’s true identity, she walks into the kitchen, where magic hands are preparing creepy food: “green cabbage as large as a human head” and “yellow dough, like a huge sheet of skin.” This atmospheric book should find a wide audience. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.