cover image The Orphan of Awkward Falls

The Orphan of Awkward Falls

Keith Graves. Chronicle, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8118-7814-2

“With no friends within a thousand miles and two long weeks to go before the sauerkraut holiday ended and school started, Josephine was certain she was doomed to face excruciating new levels of boredom.” Twelve-year-old Josephine Cravitz is curious, willful, and extremely annoyed about being dragged to a new city every time her professor father gets transferred. This time, Josephine and her parents have moved into the ancient and gothic Twittington House in remote Awkward Falls, Manitoba. Fears of boredom evaporate, however, when she meets her strange, orphaned neighbor Thaddeus Hibble, who lives in a crumbling mansion with a robot butler and a talking cat. Josephine discovers that the cannibalistic Fetid Stenchley has just escaped from the Asylum for the Dangerously Insane and is after Thaddeus. Picture book author Graves’s (Chicken Big) first novel is alternately gruesome, humorous, and action-packed, with moody, full-bleed spot art adding to the grim atmosphere, particularly in the wordless sequences that open and close the book. Graves is a confident storyteller, writing with a polished, Snicket-like drollness that bodes well for his future efforts. Ages 8–12. (Nov.)