cover image The Kneebone Boy

The Kneebone Boy

Ellen Potter, Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-37772-4

With a dark, witty absurdity suggestive of Lemony Snicket, Potter (the Olivia Kidney books) draws readers into this compelling mystery-adventure about a missing mother. "[S]worn on pain of torture" not to reveal which of the quirky Hardscrabble children he or she is, the narrator writes in third-person with wry first-person asides: "Note to reader: if you ever want your life to turn topsy-turvy, say, ‘Things will go on just as they always—' Oops, I almost said it." Things certainly do go awry for Otto (mute, after his mother's disappearance), take-charge Lucia, and clever Max, when their father sends them to stay with an aunt who's on vacation. Danger follows them to the village of Snoring-by-the-Sea, home to an eccentric great-aunt, an eerie castle, a half-human boy held prisoner––and perhaps the answer to what happened to their mother. Potter's voice is distinguished by sharp, humorous, and poignant observations: "[Otto] was so solemn. So sad. Was he always like that and she had never noticed?" Often laugh-out-loud funny, this tale quietly solves a deeper mystery: how to heal the hearts of this immensely likable trio. Ages 9–12. (Sept.)