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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*100 Cupboards* by N.D. Wilson- young readers book review
Also by N.D. Wilson:

Dandelion Fire: Book Two of the 100 Cupboards
100 Cupboards
by N.D. Wilson
Ages 9-12 304 pages Random House December 2007 Hardcover    

Henry arrives in Kansas after his parents are kidnapped to live on a farm with his relatives. Having been both overprotected and ignored, Henry is grateful and surprised at all the attention given by his Uncle Frank, Aunt Dotty, and three outspoken cousins: Henrietta, Anastasia, and Penelope. He is soon part of the family and joins in playing baseball, going to barbeques, and meeting some neighborhood boys. Although concerned for his parents, Henry hopes they don’t show up until fall…or later.

But beneath this seemingly normal family lie a few odd secrets. One night, Henry sees a mysterious man wearing a purple bathrobe coming out of the bathroom. Who is he? When a chunk of plaster falls off his attic bedroom wall, Henry finds a cupboard behind the drywall and goes to work removing the entire wall. Henrietta discovers the project and enthusiastically joins in; soon they uncover ninety-nine cupboard doors in various shapes and sizes. One of the doors opens by itself to reveal a key, and soon after two mysterious letters appear out of nowhere. As the children realize the doors lead to places and not closed spaces, they decide to make a chart to reference where each goes.

In the meantime, Uncle Frank is trying to open a bedroom door that has been stuck shut ever since Henry’s grandfather died two years ago. Even with an ax and a chainsaw, the door is impenetrable, but Henry finds that his found key fits the lock. Inside the room, they discover the one hundredth cupboard and a journal written by the children’s grandfather. When Henrietta disappears, Henry realizes he has lived a fear-filled life, and that the only way to find his cousin is to be brave and face the scariest door - and the magic begins.

Although it takes a while for this story to get moving, there’s no stopping once it does. The last third of the book is extraordinary and well worth the wait. The kidnapped parents are not meant to be a huge part of the story, more like those in James and the Giant Peach who get eaten by rhinoceroses. Though quirky, Henry’s relatives are loving, and the close family ties provide the first normal life experiences Henry has had thus far. The love they have for each other and Henry gives him the courage to face and overcome the fearfulness that has haunted his life.

The story has an open end, presumably because there will be a sequel. At least I hope so. There are a lot more doors to open.

N.D. Wilson has also written Leepike Ridge.

Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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