cover image A Box of Bones

A Box of Bones

Marina Cohen, illus. by Yana Bogatch. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-17221-1

In this magic-laden story of family secrets and emotional growth, 12-year-old Kallie lives in Vermont with her stern father and gentle, accommodating Grandpa Jess following the drowning death of her mother, a writer. A lover of logic, order, and routine, Kallie abhors the kind of uncertainty found in stories. But life takes a mysterious turn when a faceless costumed figure at the town’s Festival of Fools hands her a wooden puzzle box. Inside, she finds seemingly enchanted picture dice made from bone, which begin to serve as powerful portents of her present and future. Cohen integrates chapters of a fantasy story, narrated by a bone carver’s apprentice, that Kallie is writing herself for a school project. As the girl explores her creativity, she becomes better able to accept that some truths—such as what really happened to her mother—are not always so cut and dried. Kallie’s rigid, aloof nature obscures her vulnerability a bit too well, but Cohen thematically ties the storytelling elements together to create a compelling portrait of Kallie’s grief and her struggle to understand herself. Ages 8–11. Agent: John Cusick, Folio Literary Management/Folio Jr. [em](May) [/em]