Desperate to find him, Rownie joins up with a troupe of goblins who skirt the law to put on plays. But their plays are not only for entertainment, and the masks they use are for more than make-believe. The goblins also want to find Rowan—because Rowan might be the only person who can save the town from being flooded by a mighty river.
This accessible, atmospheric fantasy takes a gentle look at love, loss, and family while delivering a fast-paced adventure that is sure to satisfy.
My Two Cents: This National Book Award winner is magical, inventive, and very creepy. Rownie himself is immensely likeable and endearing, and even the creepiest characters are fleshed-out and fascinating. This book would spark interesting discussions and ideas about good guys and bad guys and impossibly amazing inventions. A great pick for kids in the mood for something strange and a little dark.
Grade Level: 5-7
- Visit William Alexander's website.
- Watch this video of the author reading a section from this book. (He even wears a fox mask for a minute!)
- Read this fun summary of ten goblin legends from around the world. Which one reminds you most of this book?
- One of the creatures Rownie encounters is a fish that swims in dust. Watch this video about mudskippers, a real fish that hangs out on dry land.
- Some of the characters in this story get around on gearwork legs. Watch this great introduction to gears from the Children's Museum of Houston.
- There are lots of birds doing strange things in this book. Watch the birds around you by going on a bird behavior scavenger hunt.
- Another magical, fantastical tale of a transient group of misfits: Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones
- Another story with amazing gearwork and a lost, lonely boy: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
- A less creepy tale of "magic, mystery, and a very strange adventure": Horton's Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans
- Another boy who is surrounded by magical creatures and up against almost-impossible obstacles: Rump by Liesl Shurtliff