Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"The big, old house story to end all big, old house stories"

So says Zilpha Keatley Snyder in the foreword of her latest book, The Treasures of Weatherby. She admits that, as is sometimes pointed out to her, big, old, mysterious houses are often the settings (and sometimes almost characters in and of themselves) of her stories. "Why? I can't really say, except that in my real unfictionalized life, I've always been fascinated by big, old houses. In fact, I've lived in a couple. However, I've recently decided that enough is enough. I would allow myself just one more big, old house. And that's it!"

The big, old house in Treasures is suitably impressive. Add to the mansion a lonely, sickly child with no mother, a father who is barely there (Harleigh reminded me a bit of Colin in The Secret Garden), a strange girl who appears and disppears mysteriously, a crusty martinet of an aunt in a wheelchair, a legend of lost treasure, and a host of quirky distant relatives, including one nasty, indimidating one who appears to be up to no good, and you're in for a treat.

Snyder is one of those few favorite authors whose books I read as a child who is still writing and publishing books today. I think my first one was Black and Blue Magic, about a boy who somehow acquires a magical substance that, when rubbed into his back, enables him to sprout wings and fly. Of course after that one, I was hooked. I also loved The Egypt Game, The Headless Cupid (set in a wonderful, big old house), Libby on Wednesday, and The Velvet Room.

Come to think of it, I honestly wouldn't mind another big, old house story from Zilpha Keatley Snyder!

The Treasures of Weatherby by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007)

Other blog reviews:
Jen Robinson's Book Page

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