Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Sixty-Eight Rooms review

On a field trip the the Art Institute of Chicago, Ruthie becomes fascinated by the Thorne Room exhibit, featuring miniature rooms created to look as they would during specific periods in history. Ruthie is not only drawn to the perfection of miniatures, but also feels a strange pull to the rooms. When she and her best friend, Jack, discover a magic key that allows Ruthie to shrink small enough she is thrilled! She explores all over the rooms, discovering she can not only look around the rooms, but she can go out into the entire world of the rooms' time period.

Ruthie and Jack experience Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials and medieval times, among others. Children interested in history or adventure stories will definitely find themselves falling into the story of Jack, Ruthie, and the Thorne Rooms. Pencil illustrations help the reader to visualize the rooms, the settings, and the fantasy aspects. 

Being a bit critical, the writing wasn't as fantastic as the plot concept, but it was still a lot of fun. Some of the adventure parts came off as contrived and I didn't always care for the dialogue of Ruthie or Jack. I did, however, learn a whole lot! I had never heard of the Thorne Rooms before picking this one up and I know that next time I'm in Chicago, I'll definitely be visiting.

Fans of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwieler and The Borrowers will enjoy the story as well. A fun read aloud with the family and the perfect bridge to more books about art, history, and museums.

The Sixty-Eight Rooms
Marianne Malone
288 pages
Middle Grade
Random House
February 2010


Sheila said...

The first time I saw the Thorne Rooms, I was astonished. They are like amazing doll houses that are waiting for live miniature people to walk in. I've taken two granddaughters to see this exhibit at different times, and each of the girls was enchanted. With their six-year-old eyes, they saw details I'd missed. On the more recent visit, my granddaughter kept asking which rooms would have been during the time period of various American Girl characters. If you live near Chicago or ever visit this city, be certain to go to the Art Institute and take a trip back in time by viewing the Thorne Rooms. I was delighted to discover this book and enjoyed reading it. I think kids who've seen these incredible rooms will appreciate the story the most. Reading the book aloud to a class of kids (8--12 years old) and following up with a field trip to see the rooms would make for a special experience.

CLM said...

I've been meaning to get this from the library but may instead buy it as a Christmas present - you know, the kind you read yourself before you wrap it!