Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Goblin Secrets by William Alexander, 2012.
I mightily enjoyed the National Book Award winning Goblin Secrets and I can't wait to hear William Alexander speak at this summer's Camp Read-a-Lot! His imaginative fantasy adventure indeed unfurls its secrets and draws the reader in. I'm a super fan of fairy tales, and so I enjoyed Alexander's nods to old tales such as the Russian Baba Yaga stories (see more on Baba Yaga here and here. ) I was swallowed by his world building. Dreamlike details like fish who swim in dust, heart-coal warming fire grates, and the mechanized chicken legs of Graba the witch enrich the story.
Rownie, believed to be somewhere between 8 and 10 years old, is an orphan who lives with a tangle of other children in Graba's house. As long as he runs Graba's errands and watches himself around his overbearing older "siblings," Rownie survives. His true older brother, Rowan, has disappeared some months ago and Rownie spends his free time looking for signs of him. Then everything changes when Rownie decides to sneak some coins owed to Graba and see a forbidden goblin masked performance. In the city of Zombay, acting is not allowed, and pretending to be something that you are not is an arrestable offense. Rownie increases Graba's wrath by not just watching the show, but playing in it and wearing a mask. Afterward, he is on the run from Graba and her far-seeing pigeons, and he joins up with the goblin troupe. And all the time, the inhabitants of Zombay are waiting for the floods to come. Will the witch's "grubs" catch Rownie? Can he make a new place for himself with the goblins? Can Rowan be found? Or will the rising waters destroy everything?
Fans can make masks at the Goblin Secrets website:here
I look forward to reading the companion book, Ghoulish Song, about Kaile, another child of Zombay.