Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"The Enchanted Attic - Wrestling with Tom Sawyeer" by L.L. Samson

ISBN-13: 9780310740575
Review: This is Book Four of The Enchanted Attic series and now that I know about them through this one about the Mark Twain classic, I must read the first three!  The books are for the middle grades, they mix humor with education and would make a great read-aloud selection because of the short chapters, usually ending with a hook!  Let's look inside the "enchanted attic"!

The three main characters that are responsible for bringing Tom Sawyer into the present world are a set of extremely intelligent twins, Ophelia and Linus and their boarding school friend from England.  The twins have been somewhat abandoned by their parents who have gone off on a butterfly study for five years, leaving them with an eccentric aunt and uncle.  They attend a boarding school in Kingscross, America, whose headmistress, Madrigal Pierce, has given strict orders that no one is to be poking around the tunnel discovered in the corner of the institution.  The twins are well aware of the tunnel, as well as an attic laboratory that has yielded several classic fictional characters already!  (The Hunchback of Notre Dame appeared in the middle of a mysterious chalk circle when Ophelia, an avid reader, dozed off and dropped her open book inside the circle.   Similarly, Captain Ahab from Moby Dick and the Three Musketeers have appeared in the circle in previous volumes.)

Ophelia and Linus's Uncle Augustus throws a soiree the eleventh day of every month.  The theme this month is Along the Mississippi - a Night with Mark Twain.  The family lives above Aunt Portia's bookstore and volumes have been disappearing inexplicably.  Others in the community have reported missing furniture, jewelry, and antiques.  In a secret search through the tunnels which are accessible from the enchanted attic, Tom Sawyer proves to have detective skills, no doubt stemming from having found secret treasure, being lost in a cave and witnessing a murder.  However, Tom has only sixty hours in this world before he must return to the circle to rejoin the characters in Mark Twain's classic.  When Injun Joe shows up, it's anyone's guess whether Tom will get out of this world alive or whether Joe will finally have his revenge on Tom.

The story is narrated by a janitor of nearby Kingscross University who thinks at times that he is more intelligent than the professors who teach there.  He adds pertinent (and non-pertinent information) to each chapter enlarging the readers' understanding of classical literature, good writing techniques and definitions of words little known to most middle school students.  The book ends with a list of discussion questions to ponder.  If reading the book aloud, I would recommend reading the questions first and asking them as the story progresses.  All in all, this was a very enjoyable book and I look forward to reading the others. (rev. C.Karns, ACS)

About the author: L. L. Samson is the author of several books, including the Christy award-winning novel, Songbird. In 2012, she debuted the Enchanted Attic series with Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame, followed by the second book, Saving Moby Dick and this year’s Dueling with the Three Musketeers. She lives with her husband in Lexington, Kentucky.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by ZonderKiz in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

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