Greenglass House

If you or your older kiddo is in the mood for a little mystery, especially one that just happens to take place around Christmas, I urge you to grab a copy of Greenglass House.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford,
illustrated by Jaime Zollar.
Clarion Books, 2104.

The very first chapter sets the tone: "The Smugglers' Inn." Milo is 12 years old, living with his parents in a ramshackle old inn called Greenglass House, named for the beautiful stained glass windows that decorate the converted manor. It is also known as the Smugglers' Inn, because their little port town is a popular gateway for smugglers, and Greenglass House is home away from home for many. High on a very steep hill, it is a long way up to the house on foot, although a cable railway car is available. (You can read an excerpt at the HMH Books website.)

It is the start of Christmas vacation. Milo is looking forward to the quiet time at home. No one comes to the inn during the treacherous winter months. Milo is thinking about Christmas when the first unexpected guest arrives. And then another. And another. A whole set of mismatched travelers make their way to the inn, disturbing Milo's peace with their secrets and strangeness.

Milo's new friend Meddy urges Milo to solve the mysteries of the guests. A weird old map appears and disappears. Guests' possessions go missing, and Milo and Meddy make it their job to find them. It becomes clear that some of these strangers know each other, but for whatever reason, are pretending they do not.

The children suggest that the guests tell stories to pass the time. Often, the stories provide clues to the mysteries, and for the reader, they are always entertaining.

Milo and Meddy have their own secrets. They devise characters based on a role-playing game, using those characters for courage. Milo is adopted. His Asian features often make him feel "other" from his parents. Although he loves them very much, he wonders about his heritage. Meddy harbors her own secrets, but hers take a long time to unfold. Their characters give them outlets to work out their feelings.

I don't feel it's possible for me to do this story justice. It has so much to recommend it. It manages to be fun, suspenseful, and melancholy all at once. I also read it back in October, but saved it until now, so I know I'm not doing it justice. I just wanted to share it now. It calls for a cozy chair and a cup of something hot, while you read about the biting winter chill and the children's meeting place behind the Christmas tree. It's also a National Book Award finalist, if that's important to you.

Just...  go read it.

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  1. I will! I'll go read it!!!!! LOVE the title and book cover, which to me is the most important part of a book, ha :)

    1. Well, I totally checked it out based on the title and book cover! Hel-loooo! A giant ramshackle old manor house with big GREEN stained glass windows! Yes, please! I think we just discovered my dream house. ;)

  2. I 'll go read it too... I'll download it to read it on the Kindle, cuz I don't think there's any other way for me to get it soon enough :) Not my favorite way to read things, of course, but..good enough. Btw, I just finished Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy and LOVED it! (I discovered that too thanks to you)

    1. Oh, wonderful! That one would have been perfect for this time of year, too, but I was too excited to wait with that one. I was already dreaming of winter! :)

      I have a nook from Barnes & Noble, but have only used it to read magazines. It's an older generation tablet. Kindle has better prices and selection, unfortunately.

  3. Thanks! I was curious about that one :) Happy Advent.


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