|Splendors and glooms|
Author: Schlitz, Laura Amy
When Clara vanishes after the puppeteer Grisini and two orphaned assistants were at her twelfth birthday party, suspicion of kidnapping chases the trio away from London and soon the two orphans are caught in a trap set by Grisini's ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it is too late.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.10
Points: 15.0 Quiz: 153476
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.20
Points: 23.0 Quiz: 58580
Newbery Honor, 2013
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 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Range of Reading & LEvel of Text Complexity
Kirkus Reviews (06/15/12)
School Library Journal (08/01/12)
Booklist (+) (06/01/12)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (10/12)
The Hornbook (00/09/12)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 06/01/2012 *Starred Review* A brooding, Dickensian novel with a touch of fantasy and a glimmer of hope, Schlitz’s latest opens in London in 1860, when lonely Clara, the only remaining child in a doctor’s grief-stricken household, attempts to celebrate her twelfth birthday. Grisini the puppet master is engaged to perform, along with the two orphaned children, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, who serve as his assistants. Clara bridges the class divide to befriend the children. After kidnapping Clara for ransom, cruel Grisini disappears, leaving Lizzie Rose and Parsefall struggling to survive on their own. They make their way to the country house of a bewitched woman whose magical amulet gives her amazing powers while draining away her humanity. There they learn certain grisly secrets involving their cruel master, Clara’s fate, and the wealthy witch, who seeks to control them all. The magic of the storytelling here lies in the subtle depiction of menacing evil. After working its way insidiously through the characters’ lives, it is defeated by the children, who grow in strength and understanding throughout the novel. Vividly portrayed and complex, the characters are well-defined individuals whose separate strands of story are colorful and compelling. Schlitz weaves them into an intricate tapestry that is as mysterious and timeless as a fairy tale. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Schlitz’s Newbery Medal winner, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (2007) earned her a wide following, and librarians will be eager to see what she’s up to next. - Copyright 2012 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 08/01/2012 Gr 4–8—Victorian London could be a magical place: horse-drawn carriages, puppet shows, elaborate upper-class houses. Of course it could also be miserable: fog, filthy streets, shabby hovels where too many people live in too few rooms. Schlitz conjures both the magic and the mundane here. For Clara's 12th birthday, her parents hire a street performer to give a puppet show in their home. The puppeteer, Grisini, is so talented that he appears to be magical. His two orphaned assistants, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, are envious of Clara's home and all its comforts. Clara vanishes the night of the puppet show, and Grisini and his assistants are the prime suspects. Then Grisini disappears, and Lizzie Rose and Parsefall must seek out the missing girl, with the sinister and mysterious help of a wealthy old witch. Schlitz uses such evocative language that readers will practically smell dirty London and then be relieved by the crisp, cold air in the countryside around the witch's crumbling mansion. The characters are recognizable tropes: the witch is rotting from the inside out; the orphans may be dirty and ill-bred, but they have spirit and pluck; the little rich girl is actually sad and lonely; the skinny puppeteer and the overly dramatic landlady are recognizably Dickensian. Yet, they are so well drawn that they are never caricatures, but people whom readers will cheer for, be terrified of, or grow to like. The plot is rich with supernatural and incredibly suspenseful elements. Fans of mystery, magic, and historical fiction will all relish this novel.—Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT - Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 10/01/2012 Elderly witch Cassandra Sagredo lies on her death bed, steadily succumbing to the fire opal she wears around her neck, the source of her power and her downfall. Cassandra has power enough to summon Gaspare Grisini, a once-powerful, now washed-up magician turned to street puppeteering, who informs her the only way out of her predicament is for someone to steal the fire opal away from her. With two malleable orphaned apprentices and the ability to transform a live child into a puppet, Grisini is just the man to set a theft into motion. He arranges for three children to take up residence in Cassandra’s mansion, certain that one of the three will steal the gem and then be pressured into using its power for Grisini’s benefit. Will it be Lizzie Rose, the kind-hearted apprentice who simply wants enough money for a secure future? Will it be Parsefall, the talented puppeteer apprentice who is a liar and pickpocket? Or will it be Clara, the last surviving child of wealthy parents, whom Grisini kidnapped, made into a puppet, and now holds for ransom? An intricate web of backstories binds the three children into an unusual alliance and supplies each with a motivation that makes the likelihood of one of them perpetrating the theft an even wager. London fog and northern ice, manicured parks and suffocating parlors all figure in to the rich Dickensian settings, and a supporting cast of suffering parents, a tipsy landlady, a befuddled copper, and a staff of envious servants keep the action rolling. Middle-schoolers not quite ready for Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus can revel in this lusciously atmospheric title of rival magicians and the children caught in their crossfire. EB - Copyright 2012 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.