Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame (The Enchanted Attic, 1) / L. L. Samson. 7.3.2013

 

Zonderkidz (May 8, 2012), ISBN 978-0310727958

MS (INT) Rating: 3

Lisa Samson, author of numerous adult novels, tries her hand at children’s fiction by presenting a classic story within a contemporary story framework.

In Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame, fourteen year old Ophelia and Linus are sent to live with their aunt and uncle, while their parents are on a research trip for five years. The best part of living with their aunt and uncle: they own an antique bookshop, and the twins are bookworms. The twins discover a hidden attic belonging to a mad scientist. In fact, Ophelia is reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame, when its main character, Quasimodo, comes to life. They have sixty hours to find a way for Quasimodo to get back to his own world. A custodian, a priest and a neighbor also help them.  Ophelia and Linus introduce Quasimodo to their world while they are waiting. The mad scientist shows up and tries to prevent them from succeeding.

The book may be intended for upper elementary students, but the author’s many references to literary works that they will study in high school and comments on the art of writing were distracting. It could be appropriate for nine to twelve year olds, especially as a way of introducing the classics to younger students.

The characters were somewhat stereotypical (absent parents allow the twins to embark on their own adventures).  There was no visible faith element, despite being published by Zondervan. This book is the first of the series whose concept of a storybook character coming to life is engaging, but the execution is not smooth (too many asides and references to literature not suitable or age-appropriate).  Hopefully later books will overcome this.

Carol R. Gehringer, www.worthy2read.wordpress.com

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