When I pick a book for my book club, I'm always a little nervous that everyone will hate it. This is true even for my tiny family book club where it's just me and the kids. This month was especially risky since I was the last to read the book -- I chose one of the Cybils Middle Grade Novel finalists, Ellen Potter's The Kneebone Boy. First X read it and gave it a seal of approval, but he likes almost everything, then I chased P around for a week or to get him to start reading the book. Finally X put his foot down -- he wanted the dinner out we have as part of the family club and so P would by golly read the book. And after a chapter or two he was hooked -- he finished it at his dad's house and met me demanding I read it as well. He even told me it was an especially good book for the club because there was so much he wanted to talk about.
So I read it this afternoon, and I agree that it is delightful. The tone is note-perfect, from the Nesbit-echo of a child narrator who doesn't identify herself (you see who I think it is, but it could be one of the brothers). The family dynamics between the three siblings also charmed me, including the alienation of the youngest because of the tight bond between Otto and Lucia. The adventures that continuously danced on the edge of impossible but managed to stay just on the right side of improbably, the rich gifts of all three children -- Max's brains, Lucia's imagination, Otto's sensitivity, the American great-aunt with her mysterious motives, everything added to the atmosphere and prepared me for the bittersweet ending.
I'll probably come back and update this entry after out dinner out tomorrow, but for now I'm just glad I forced us all to read this book. I wonder if I could get P to try Potter's other books...