The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter
Life has not gone smoothly for Otto, Lucia, and Max Hardscrabble. Their mother mysteriously disappeared five years ago and the gossipy people in their small town viciously blame the kids and their father. The Hardscrabbles are lonely and strange, especially the oldest boy Otto, who never speaks and always wears a scarf. When their father leaves on a sudden business trip, the Hardscrabbles are sent to London to stay with a cousin. The adventure begins when they get there and the cousin is gone, leaving them on their own with no way to contact their father. They end up in a town called Snoring-on-the-Sea, which has secrets that will keep you up at night. The Hardscrabbles try to solve the mystery of the dangerous “Kneebone Boy” locked away in a castle tower and along the way find secret passageways, fake zebras, a cat with five legs, embarrassing pajamas, and a lot more weird and wonderful things.
It sounds strange, but this book is magical without there being any actual magic. The Kneebone Boy captures that giddy feeling of fantasy where anything is possible, but there is a rational explanation for everything. I especially loved the ending. Ellen Potter has a talent for wrapping up a story with an ending that is both surprising and makes perfect sense because of the clues that pile up throughout the book. As soon as I finished the book, I had the urge to immediately re-read it to see how neatly everything falls into place. I’ve enjoyed all of the books that I have read by Ellen Potter, and The Kneebone Boy was no exception. The witty characters are so much fun to read about and her books have such great emotional depth, I really recommend that people of all ages check out this author.
I love the cover of The Kneebone Boy, and it really fits the dark and playful tone of the book. Click here to see a larger version of the picture and a note from the author about how it was created. When you look at the picture, check out the legs dangling from the tree above Max. Creepy! Now don’t you want to know what that’s all about?