.l. Konigsburg has been a favorite author of mine ever since I was a kid and stumbled upon From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler, so it was natural that I pick up her newest, especially since it has such a cool title. Sorry to say, though, that I was a tad disappointed. Good story, but a little off.
Amadeo finds an unlikely friend in William, a mysterious boy with a purposeful past who is helping his mother catalog the contents of a neighbor’s house in preparation for her move to a retirement community. Mrs. Zender’s home is a dream come true for Amadeo, as he sees the potential for his dream of discovering something that has been lost becoming possible. As Amadeo and William delve deeper into the jam-packed closets and cupboards of Mrs. Zender’s house, the home-owner herself, the former Lily Aida Tull, plays into their dreams and manipulates the boys into finding a long-lost piece of art given to her by her late husband, Mr. Zender.
The story is exciting and interesting, with Konigsburg’s signature quirky characters and off-beat dialog, but this time it’s just a little too off-beat for me. The dialog between William and Amadeo is just too quirky to be believed — I really could not imagine a pair of 5th grade boys talking to each other the way they do. But, it’s a small quibble. I was reminded a bit of Carl Hiassen’s “Hoot,” which can only be a good thing.
Over all, a quick and enjoyable read for 4th grade and up.