For me, the mark of a good children’s book is one that an adult finds hard to put down. The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins, fits that description. The Glass Castle, published by Shiloh Run Press, is a mystery/adventure book for 10-14 year olds.
In this story, Avery is kidnapped on her 13th birthday and taken to live in a castle where she finds dozens of other children, who coincidentally are all thirteen years old orphans. The children reside hidden in this castle, out of sight of a king and his future wife, yet are responsible for keeping the castle running—cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc.. Avery is determined not only to escape to find her way back home, but also to find out why the children are being held prisoner, why her mother mysteriously disappeared several years ago, and why she grew up hearing detailed stories about this castle which, until now, she never knew existed outside of her mother’s imagination.
This 250 page book is a quick read, partly because each short chapter ends with a cliff-hanger, encouraging the reader to keep going. And I did! I finished the book in two days and it didn’t take Emily much longer. The tale was well written and exciting and showcases the values of loyalty and friendship. Tweens will be sure to relate to the main character’s loneliness, struggles with difficult people, and (very innocent) attraction to the opposite sex. Any child, from a voracious reader to a reluctant one is likely to enjoy this fantasy story.
There were a couple of things that made this book less than perfect for me, though. First, there was a occasional comment made by a character about “trusting God” that just seemed to be inserted to make it a “Christian” book. I read and enjoy Christian fiction, but in this case, the “God” references seemed awkward and contrived in this fantasy story. (Imagine if a short sermon were inserted into one of the Narnia books instead of letting the story speak for itself.) I think that the characters’ faith should either have been an integral part of the story from the beginning, or that the book should have exemplified Christian values without the forced add-ins.
Second, the story ended with a cliff-hanger and was not resolved in any way. I hate that! I expected that a sequel would follow, but I do expect any book to stand on its own with at least the major conflicts resolved at the end of the book. If you don’t mind that aspect, then The Glass Castle is a great tween book—one of the best I’ve read in a while. (You might still want to wait until the sequel is out before starting this volume, because you WILL want to read the next book right away!)
This is Emily’s take on The Glass Castle:
I LOVED this book. Most mystery books I read are exciting, but this one had a lot of cliff hangers that would have me at the edge of my seat wanting to turn th epage and read thenext chapter. I love how it takes two ordinary kids, Avery and Henry, and turns their lives inside out and throws them into an adventure no kid would forget. The way this was weritten gave me a tingly feeling that made me feel as if I was in the book myself!
Read more opinions of this book at the Schoolhouse Review Crew: