cover image Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head

Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head

Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester, illus. by Benjamin Lacombe. Harper, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-227081-8

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: step right up and don’t be shy. You must not—you absolutely cannot!—put this book down.” With this bit of honest advertising, so begins this captivating series opener from Oliver (The Spindlers) and Chester (a pseudonym for Oliver’s father, author Harold Schechter). A curiosity museum in financial trouble, “the only place on earth where four extraordinary children like Thomas, Sam, Pippa, and Max could fit in,” faces bigger problems after a string of accidents and murders are linked to a shrunken head in its collection. Using talents of contortion, strength, mind-reading, and knife-throwing, the four children attempt to save the only home they know, while contending with dangers lurking all over 1930s New York City, from seedy reporters to mad scientists. A quick-paced plot is bolstered by the bonds of friendship these unusual yet endearing children form as they try to solve a mystery greater—and more personal—than they ever expected. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: (for Oliver) Stephen Barbara, Inkwell Management; (for Chester) David Patterson, Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency. (Sept.)