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Summary: After his parents are kidnapped, Henry York (12)goes to live with his relatives in Henry, Kansas. Uncle Frank is an eccentric man who runs a secret online store (secret only from his wife) selling oddities such as tumbleweed. Aunt Dottie is the stereotypical rural mom concerned only with making sure her kids are fed well and cared for. Cousin Penelope is mature for her age; Anastasia is gossipy and irritating; and Henrietta is normal enough.
Henry's first few says also seem "normal enough," until, something broke through his wall in the middle of the night. Over time, the wall reveals an astonishing array of 99 cupboards. Curious, Henry and Henrietta fiddle with the locks until eventually one cupboard opens.What they see astonishes them. What is going on in this room? who are these strange men? This is the first in a fantasy series for middle grade readers.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 to 13
Young Reader Reaction: 100 Cupboards is an interesting read. I wasn't very enthusiastic about reading what seemed to be another run-of-the-mill fantasy novel. The book seems very plain until almost the very end, where the plot takes a sinister turn unusual for a children's book, and almost in the vein of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Events that appeared to be innocuous and innocent suddenly take on a new, more meaningful tone and give the novel more depth than it previously appeared to have. This book is for pre-teens (10- to 14-ish).
Adult Reader Reaction: I have tried reading this a couple of times. I just can't seem to get past the fifth chapter. Based on our teen's review. I need to try again.
Pros: The story is deceptive. It is a good page turner and the author really grabs the reader with details s/he may have overlooked.
Cons: Readers may give up too soon thinking this is "just like the rest" of novels in this genre.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. I would not buy this book myself but it does have an appeal and I would recommend it to those who enjoy the possibility of alternate worlds and repeated dramatic reveals. I would also recommend checking it out. The book is the first in a series, and if the quality remains consistent I would certainly recommend buying or borrowing the sequels to continue delving into Henry's story.