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kids_book_review_orphan_awkward_fallsThe Orphan of Awkward Falls
Chronicle Books/Raincoast Books
age 8-12
Written by Keith Graves
256 pages

Synopsis from Raincoast Books:

When thirteen-year-old Josephine moves to Awkward Falls she can’t help but snoop around the dilapidated mansion next door. Inevitably, she is captured by the house’s strange inhabitants: an ancient automaton who serves as a butler, a cat patched together with a few odd parts, and most surprising of all, a boy named Thaddeus Hibble. Meanwhile, Fetid Stenchley — the most feared patient in the Asylum for the Dangerously Insane — is on the loose after making a dramatic escape, and there is only one thing on his mind… revenge. Unfortunately for Josephine and Thaddeus, he’s headed their way. Can these unlikely friends stop Stenchley before it’s too late?

Stories about the strange seem to fascinate kids. Perhaps not quite ready for the more graphically written (and sometimes romantically entangled) stories written for young adults, pre-teens with a panache for the dark and strange will quickly be engulfed in The Orphan of Awkward Falls. I know I was. From a mad prisoner who attacks a audience of onlookers in order to escape, to a dilapidated mansion in the woods full of bizarre, experimental creatures, this book isn’t for the fait of heart. My 9-year old daughter could only read a few chapters before putting it away. There are some intense scenes but older kids may enjoy the book.

Even with its dark side, The Orphan of Awkward Falls does remind me a little of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, with its underlying snarky humour. But unlike that series, which I feel aims at the lower age group, The Orphan of Awkward Falls delves much deeper into the dark side of evil and therefore might be more appropriate for the higher age group. The characters are wonderful, both the good and the bad. I love the relationship between Thaddeus and Josephine and how they bring out a part of themselves not yet discovered. The few images included in the story remind me of a mad man’s sketches and add to the whole dark feel of the story. Although I enjoyed the story, the content might be disturbing to younger readers. It depends on the reading material your child is already enjoying.

You can add The Orphan of Awkward Falls to your personal library by visiting your local book store or visiting Raincoast Books. Visit our Kid’s Books section for other great book recommendations. What are you reading with your kids?

I have to thank Crystal at Raincoast Books for my review copy.

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