Sunday, January 15, 2017

Book Review: The Sixty-Eight Rooms

I'm always curious to know more about the authors I read. Thus, I was especially excited to learn that this author, Marianne Malone, is from Urbana, Illinois, my husband's hometown. I agree with The Chicago Tribune, as it declared, "Marianne Malone has tapped into a fantasy that is ... completely universal." I know I have dreamt of what it would be like to travel back to different times or to grow tiny enough to enter an elaborate doll house. I don't recall ever visiting the Thorne Rooms in the Art Institute of Chicago (for a vicarious view of the rooms, view this You Tube video), but it brought to mind Queen Mary's Dolls' House that I observed at Windsor Castle.

In The Sixty-Eight Rooms, Ruthie and her best friend, Jack, are sixth graders living in Chicago. When their class takes a field trip to the Art Institute, they stumble upon a key in a corridor behind the scenes of the elaborate miniature rooms of the Thorne Rooms. The key proves magical, shrinking them to size so that they can experience a fabulous adventure in the rooms and their environs. While there, they discover evidence of another visitor and happen upon something accidentally left behind.

Although I did tire of hearing (I listened in audio form) the details of their shrinking and enlarging and the logistics of maneuvering through the rooms, the adventure was, indeed, magical. Children will delight in a fantasy about exploring tiny worlds unknown to them. Adults will enjoy soaking in the history presented. This simple tale is sure to appeal to many diverse readers. It certainly left me with a desire to visit Chicago and experience the Thorne Rooms for myself. Moreover, I was thrilled to discover sequels are available: Stealing Magic, The Pirate's Coin, and The Secret of the Key.

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