Almost everybody who has grown up in Chicago knows about the Thorne Rooms. Housed in the Children's Galleries of the Chicago Art Institute, they are a collection of 68 exquisitely crafted miniature rooms made in the 1930s by Mrs. James Ward Thorne. Each of the 68 rooms is designed in the style of a different historic period, and every detail is perfect, from the knobs on the doors to the candles in the candlesticks. Some might even say, the rooms are magic. Imagine--what if you discovered a key that allowed you to shrink so that you were small enough to sneak inside and explore the rooms' secrets? What if you discovered that others had done so before you? And that someone had left something important behind? Fans of Chasing Vermeer, The Doll People , and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler will be swept up in the magic of this exciting art adventure! From the Hardcover edition.
Sixth-graders Ruthie and her best friend, Jack, are on a class visit to Chicago's Art Institute, where they see the famous Thorne Rooms. Filled with incredible miniatures, the rooms, representing different time periods, fascinate Ruthie. When she finds a key that shrinks her and allows her to get inside the rooms, Ruthie wants to return as soon as possible. Jack is a willing partner, and when a way is found to shrink him, too, the adventure really begins. First-time novelist Malone carefully crafts a fantastical story with plenty of real-world elements, including Jack's mother's worries as she tries to make a living as an artist and the subplot of a museum security guard, who has lost something important. Jack and Ruthie find it in the rooms, which tie the past and present together. There are contrivances that make accessibility to the adventures possible, but readers will focus on the mystery, the history, and the excitement of being small.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review
Debut author Malone pens a fantasy tale of museum time travel that suffers from an underdeveloped cast of characters and some disappointing plotting decisions. When daring 11-year-old Jack finds a key in the hallway behind the Thorne Rooms, 68 miniature historical dioramas housed in the Art Institute of Chicago, he hands it to his best friend, Ruthie, a cautious girl who yearns for excitement. To their shock, she shrinks to five inches tall. After figuring out how to shrink Jack down, the duo hide in the hallway past closing time, try on fancy clothes and armor, battle a cockroach, and are thrilled to find that doors lead out from the rooms into the actual past. Cop-outs abound, there are no villains to speak of, and the sixth-graders generally seem too good to be true ("You mean you've never been to the Thorne Rooms?" Jack asks Ruthie early on. "I thought everyone had!"). Readers will find little excitement in either the time travelogue or the clinical descriptions of the genuinely delightful Thorne Rooms, which deserve better. Ages 8-12. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-6-On a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, sixth-graders Jack and Ruthie discover a magical key that allows them to explore the Thorne Rooms, 68 intricate model rooms in the children's galleries. When Ruthie holds the key, she and anything she is touching, including Jack, shrink to the scale of the models. As they explore the rooms, they learn that they are not the first to discover the key-the daughter of a friendly museum guard was the last to learn the secret of the Thorne Rooms, and she left behind a notebook containing priceless family photographs. If Ruthie and Jack can find and return the notebook without giving up the secret of the rooms, they can change the museum guard's life. However, the rooms are not without their dangers. Ruthie and Jack can move beyond them to the different time periods and locations of each one and, in doing so, may be able to alter the course of history. This is a solid story, though it lacks the cachet that would make it stand out from other similar books. The descriptions of the rooms are faithful to the actual rooms in the museum. The pen-and-ink illustrations are of uneven quality and add little to the story. Recommend this book to fans of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer (Scholastic, 2004) and other stories that incorporate a touch of fantasy into a cozy mystery.-Misti Tidman, Boyd County Public Library, Ashland, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Marianne Malone is the cofounder of the Campus School Middle School for Girls in Urbana, Illinois. She and her husband divide their time between Urbana and Washington, D.C. For Teacher's Guides (including common core tie-ins) and more, visit MarianneMalone.com. From the Hardcover edition.