Parchment House

Cara Lockhart Smith, Author, Cara L. Smith, Illustrator Four Winds $13.95 (152p) ISBN 978-0-02-785845-7
Johnnie Rattle lives at Parchment House (a home for orphans and abandoned children) with 12 other children in a drafty old attic. They are in the clutches of the Worthies, a group of scheming adults who invest in every possible gadget to make their lives easier and the orphans' lives miserable. One day a huge mystery box arrives; in it is a mechanical nemesis worse than all the others: Archibald, a teaching robot, which the Worthies program to their ghoulish delight. Growing resentment against Archie and the Worthies' brutality explodes when the Governors come to inspect Parchment House, and Johnny Rattle instructs Archie to ruin the Governor's feast. This dark, quixotic story is an Oliver Twist set in the 20th century. The children are battered and bruised, yet they manage to bounce back with amazing resiliency to win against their tormentors. Told in an irreverent, poetic style, this is elegant, grown-up storytelling. Ages 9-13. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
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