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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*The Museum of Mary Child* by Cassandra Golds- young readers book review
The Museum of Mary Child
by Cassandra Golds
Ages 10-14 329 pages Kane/Miller June 2009 Hardcover    

In this truly original novel with a surprise fairy-tale ending, Australian author Cassandra Golds narrates the story of Heloise, an orphan girl who lives with her oppressive godmother next to a bizarre doll museum. Forbidden amusements - including dolls - Heloise studies a narrow range of subjects with a tutor, learns limited parts of the Bible, and sews for charitable causes.

When Heloise finds a doll, Maria, under the floorboards, she begins to comprehend the meaning of love, but does not yet fully understand it. After her godmother discovers Maria, Heloise learns that the museum is filled with the horror of rag dolls with twisted, over-sewn faces created by her insane mother, Mary Child.

A flock of fantastical birds (The Society of Caged Birds) guides Heloise as she runs away from this nightmare into the caring arms of a choir director and her Christian chorus of orphan girls. Finally safe and secure, Heloise gradually learns to trust and form friendships, yet she feels a longing to somehow help Mary Child. Guided once again by the birds, Heloise discovers a mysterious prison underneath the church next to her new home.

In the prison, she meets a young man, a prisoner with whom she shares stories; stories of both their lives and that of Mary Child. The holes in their lives become filled when Heloise must return to her godmother and forgive all the years of cruelty for a greater love.

With the exposition introducing a prince and another girl living in a madhouse, Heloise’s story gradually knits these separate threads together to create a positive message of love and forgiveness. Elements of fantasy, an intimation of times gone by, and an underlying base of faith unite to create an unforgettable story with striking images of both suffering and love.

My seventh-grade reviewing partner found the prologue puzzling, yet ultimately fell in love with the multifaceted plot, well-rounded characters, and intriguing conclusion. Girls who like mystery with a smattering of horror will enjoy Change-up , provided they have the patience to persist through the early accounts of the key characters.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Kristine Wildner/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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