Sep 14, 2010

Tween Tuesday: The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter

(edited: Tween Tuesday is a meme hosted by the GreenBeanTeenQueen. Check her out!)

4 out of 5 cookies

Cover Love: Oh yes! This is a wonderful cover and the pictures of the three Hardscrabble kids are perfect from their descriptions. This is just a great cover.

If you have never had the pleasure of reading an Ellen Potter book, I suggest you go to your local library or bookstore and pick one up. I have only read two of hers so far, but I loved them both and (not to turn you off from this) both of them have made me cry--in a bittersweet way. Not the kind of "I can't believe that it ended that way" type of cry, but a "that makes sense and although it's not the happy ending I had hoped for, it's a really good ending" type of cry. (You can read my sort of review of Olivia Kidney, the first Ellen Potter book I read, here.)

The Kneebone Boy made me cry. And during reading this book, the entire book, I never saw it coming.

This is the story of the Hardscrabble children--Otto, the oldest who doesn't talk, Lucia, the middle child who takes it upon herself to take care of Otto, and Max, the littlest who is the wisest. They live in a town called Little Tunks with their father Casper--their mother, Tess, had vanished a few years back. Because there was never any explanation about what happened to their mother, there are a lot of rumors about the family that float around Little Tunks. Especially since Otto stopped talking and started wearing a scarf that covered part of his face right after his mother left. Their father spends time away from home painting disposed royals. Because of a mix-up prior to one of his trips the children find themselves alone in London. After a scary run-in they decide to head to Snoring-by-the-Sea to stay with their great-aunt Haddie, whom they have never met. This is where their "big" adventure happens.

One of the best things about Ellen's books is that she always has some great wacky, fascinating "side" characters. Just interesting people that the main characters run across that either help them along their way or get in their way. In this way her writing reminds my of Roald Dahl. For me that is the highest compliment because he is the pinnacle.

I felt that one of the most interesting choices the author made was to make Otto, the oldest child, kind of messed up. Normally when you have siblings who've lost a parent the oldest feels the need to take care of those younger than him or her. Not so with this book. The mother leaving kind of messed Otto up so Lucia had to take over the care of the family.

The whole book did not focus on the mother leaving, it was just mentioned every now and again. It's not like the kids went on their adventure to find their mother, but it was mentioned enough that I was kind of getting mad at the mom. I was concerned the there would not be a good, plausible explanation for her leaving and that would make me mad. As a mom, I cannot ever imagine turning my back on my kids so when I read about moms who do, it brings out some strong emotions.

I am not going to spoil if they find the mom or if a good explanation was given, just remember that I did cry at the end, a lot. I certainly could see myself reading this book again and I know it will be an easy sell to my many students this year--I am certainly buying it for my library!


  1. I looked at The Kneebone Boy for Tween Tuesday this week too.

    I thought it was amazing that Potter kept that thread of interest about their missing Mom going throughout the book. It's certainly not what I would say the book is about (there are just so many other things going on!), and yet it remains important enough to make the conclusion meaningful.

    Great review!

  2. Very interesting. I haven't heard much about this one but I really like the cover. I'll have to check it out.
    Alison Can Read

  3. I have this in my TBR pile and your review makes me want to move it higher and read it! I'll probably end up crying too!!

  4. It's on my dresser, calling to me. :-)