Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms (Backyard Book Club)

by Lissa Evans

From Goodreads:

As if being small for his age and also having "S. Horten" as his name isn't bad enough, now 10-year-old Stuart is forced to move far away from all his friends. But on his very first day in his new home, Stuart's swept up in an extraordinary adventure: the quest to find his great-uncle Tony--a famous magician who literally disappeared off the face of the earth--and Tony's marvelous, long-lost workshop.  Along the way, Stuart reluctantly accepts help from the annoying triplets next door… and encounters trouble from another magician who's also desperate to get hold of Tony's treasures.

My Two Cents: This is a lovely little British book that has so many elements that appeal to kids--humor, puzzles, mysteries, magic, and even a very fun set of triplets. It's exciting and adventurous without being scary or threatening. My kids loved Stuart and his family and it certainly introduced them to fun new words and concepts. There's a bit of set-up in the first third (as there needs to be), but once the mystery got going, they were always begging for one more chapter.

Grade Level: 2-5

Additional Resources:
  • Be like Stuart's dad and create your own crossword puzzle.
  • Learn a little more about what life was like for people like Great Uncle Tony during the Battle of Britain.
  • Stuart thinks "GRAVEST FLATE" must be an anagram. What words can you make by rearranging the letters in your name? (Try it on your own first, then plug the letters in here for a big list!)
  • Go on a bird behavior scavenger hunt like the birdwatchers in the book.

More to Read:
  • Another boy who is excellent at getting to the bottom things: The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin
  • Another book about a boy in Britain who has to solve a very big mystery: Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Another (more sentimental) book about unlocking family secrets: Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur
  • Another book of miraculous mechanisms and a boy unlocking the secrets of his past: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik
Check back in the coming weeks to see what we did for our Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms meeting of the Backyard Book Club!

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