Books by Jane Langton

THE DRAGON TREE by Jane Langton
FANTASY
Released: June 1, 2008

When Concord's new tree warden cuts down all the trees next door, Eddy and Georgie marshal a band of knights to guard the magic tree that sprouts in their own yard. Read full book review >

SAINT FRANCIS AND THE WOLF by Jane Langton
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 4, 2007

The people of Gubbio, threatened by a hungry, howling wolf, are trapped inside the walls of their city. Read full book review >

THE MYSTERIOUS CIRCUS by Jane Langton
ANIMALS
Released: May 10, 2005

Opening with the image of a pegboard, a classic toy, Langton serves up a classic tale, interweaving fantastical elements with the familiar situation of a group of children working together to have fun and to outwit the adults who threaten their world. Read full book review >

THE DESERTER by Jane Langton
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 7, 2003

"Fine storytelling grounded in solid research and highlighted with vintage photographs and the author's trademark line drawings. An unabashed love letter to Harvard and librarians, and an admonition for hawks in our own time. "
Every family has black sheep, but what could Mary Kelly's great-great-grandfather Seth Morgan, Harvard class of 1860, have done that was so shameful no one ever spoke of it? Read full book review >
THE ESCHER TWIST by Jane Langton
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Feb. 4, 2002

He met her for less than an hour in the gallery on Huron Street. Read full book review >

MURDER AT MONTICELLO by Jane Langton
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Feb. 19, 2001

Fourth of July at Monticello should be a blast—at least so says University of Virginia professor Ed Bailey in exhorting his Harvard counterpart Homer Kelly (The Thief of Venice, 1999, etc.) to join him for the festivities at Thomas Jefferson's historic home. Read full book review >

THE TIME BIKE by Jane Langton
Released: June 30, 2000

After 16 years of mostly mysteries for adults, Langton resurrects the Concord cast of Fragile Flag (1984) and its predecessors for a charming, if patchwork, time-travel tale. Read full book review >

THE THIEF OF VENICE by Jane Langton
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: June 21, 1999

Homer Kelly's 14th case sends the Concord, Mass., professor and his wife and colleague Mary (The Face on the Wall, 1998, etc.) to a rare book conference in Venice, where Mary's tourist photos will reveal a missing woman and lead to a stolen treasure, a modern miracle, and sudden, violent death—all illustrated with an exceptional profusion of Langton's line drawings.

Read full book review >
THE FACE ON THE WALL by Jane Langton
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: June 1, 1998

New England's professor/sleuth Homer Kelly's wife Mary (Dead As a Dodo, 1996, etc.) wants him to look into the disappearance of her onetime student Pearl Small, whose husband Fred is trying to turn his wife's inherited acreage, once devoted to pig-farming, into an upscale residential development. Read full book review >

DEAD AS A DODO by Jane Langton
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

Homer Kelly is nervous about his stint as a visiting fellow in American literature at Keble College, but he'd relax if he knew that the elevated Oxford body count will make him feel right at home. Read full book review >

THE SHORTEST DAY by Jane Langton
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Nov. 1, 1995

"A loquacious narrative that's only fitfully absorbing."
It's Christmastime in Cambridge's Harvard Square, but goodwill is in short supply. Read full book review >
THE QUEEN'S NECKLACE by Jane Langton
Released: Oct. 21, 1994

Langton and Plume (Salt, 1992) pair up again to tell the story of black-hearted King Hendrik and his most precious possession, a necklace of 100 perfect pearls. Read full book review >

DIVINE INSPIRATION by Jane Langton
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

"Her illustrations, on the other hand, are elegant, crisp, and mercifully without unnecessary embellishment."
Young organ-builder Alan Starr, on his way into Boston's First Church of the Commonwealth, comes across a lone infant. Read full book review >
SALT by Jane Langton
adapted by Jane Langton, translated by Alice Plume, illustrated by Ilse Plume
Released: Sept. 14, 1992

One of the Russian folklorist Afanasyev's more familiar tales (a despised youngest son woos a princess, wins out over his malicious brothers, and ensures the family's continuing fortunes by discovering a supply of salt) is gracefully recounted and set within elegant borders. Read full book review >

GOD IN CONCORD by Jane Langton
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: June 1, 1992

"The author's clever live drawings further enhance a richly textured, unflaggingly entertaining story."
Ominous happenings in Concord, Mass., site of Thoreau's Walden and long the home base of the author's intellectual ex-cop Homer Kelly (National Enemy, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1991

"Cerebral and literate, then, with a wacky disregard for conventional thinking and detecting."
Langton, a charter member in the charming-digressions club, here sends series sleuth Homer Kelly (Murder at the Gardner, etc.) off to tutor at the ramshackle Villa L'Ombrellino, in Florence, where the eavesdropping maid, her lover (the gardener), and a pesky student voyeur are soon dispatched; then the beautiful Julia is kidnapped, and her silently lovelorn swain, Professor Zibo, is determined to get her back. Read full book review >
MURDER AT THE GARDNER  by Jane Langton
Released: Feb. 23, 1988

"This is one not to miss."
The author of several stories featuring retired ex-cop (now Harvard lecturer) Homer Kelly (Natural Enemy, etc.) reveals unexpected strengths and charm in this new work. Read full book review >
GOOD AND DEAD by Jane Langton
Released: Nov. 17, 1986

"Cheerless but mildly compelling."
An odd story involving little detection but many studies of the lives and deaths—especially the deaths—of the parishoners of Old West Church in Nashoba, Mass. Read full book review >
THE FRAGILE FLAG by Jane Langton
Released: Sept. 1, 1984

"Kids may add this in with the fantasy; what'll win them over are the scrappy kid-characters, the perils of the open Strip, the story-telling ginger and snap."
Georgie Hall, the spindly nine-year-old stalwart of The Fledgling, confronts the US president over the "peace Missile"—after visionary promptings (the Minute Men, "Uncle Freddy's beloved Henry Thoreau," the world in flames) from the tattered flag in the Hall's Concord attic. Read full book review >
Released: May 15, 1984

"Still, it moves crisply from crisis to crisis—as the academic milieu meshes nicely with the slightly precious sensibility at work here; and competent line drawings enhance the ambience."
Scholars have come from near and far to attend a centennial Emily D. symposium in Amherst, Mass.—with some of them housed in the poet's old dwelling, now a museum. Read full book review >
NATURAL ENEMY by Jane Langton
Released: Feb. 25, 1981

"With intriguing nature-study touches and a slew of nifty minor characters (the Heron sisters must protect their house from historical societies, garden clubbers, and real-estaters)—an odd but diverting tale, with special appeal to YA readers."
Ex-cop Homer Kelly (The Memorial Hall Murder, 1978) returns, to considerably better effect, in an entertainment which is less a conventional murder-mystery than a suspenseful morality play (again with echoes of Langton's work in juveniles). Read full book review >
THE FLEDGLING by Jane Langton
Released: March 19, 1980

"Except for an opening false-note prematurely espousing the goose's viewpoint, Langton makes Georgie's story a successful blend of humor, charm, pathos, family feeling, and that hint of something transcendent that lights up all her fantasies."
Little Georgie's pre-dawn flights on the back of a friendly goose (she calls him her swan prince) are not burdened by the allegorical content that characterized the mind trips of older step-cousins Eleanor and Eddy in three previous Langton novels. Read full book review >
THE MEMORIAL HALL MURDER by Jane Langton
Released: April 1, 1978

"The 1960ish students aren't much more convincing, but Langton has done enough Harvard Yard research to endear her to nostalgic alumni—and if any mystery with a headless corpse can be sweet, this is it."
Langton's juvenile-author manner hangs around this silly but fairly stylish murder-comedy—especially in the nonstop folksy jabber of her detective, ex-cop Homer Kelly. Read full book review >
PAPER CHAINS by Jane Langton
Released: April 1, 1977

"Yet Langton does recapture the surface allure; and the paperchain image—which expresses both Evelyn's predilection for school and her expectation of continuity—is felicitous."
Here, in separate short scenes and flashes, are the extracurricular highlights of Evelyn Underhill's first few months at college: the "unsendable" letters she writes to her philosophy professor; the madcap escapades (Langton wouldn't use the phrase but the spirit is the same) such as ringing the bell in the school's boardedup tower; the conspiracy to keep a dog on campus; and the beady moments of cartwheeling with her friends across the square because the sign says "Don't walk." Read full book review >
DARK NANTUCKET NOON by Jane Langton
Released: Jan. 22, 1974

"A beach plum."
The mystery is somewhat waterlogged by the environs, Nantucket, but Miss Langton's audience — the younger girls she formerly wrote for and the older ones they grew into — won't mind since there's lots of local folkways and bylaws, Nantucket having kept itself to itself; lots of instruction about the tides and the shellfish and the shells; a romance; a clever use of Melville with whom Miss Langton is on close speaking/citing terms; and finally the death of a young woman who represented local conservation but. . . . Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 15, 1972

"The nostalgia, however, takes second place to Grace's spirited, sometimes giddy, enthusiasm for life which is guaranteed to bowl you over."
Her Majesty, Grace Jones has grown up a bit and transferred to the Winslow S. DeForest Junior High School, but she's still her old exuberant self — outwardly a tomboy in her father's old blue serge middy, inwardly Trueblue Tom straight out of her beloved Swallows and Amazons. Read full book review >
THE ASTONISHING STEREOSCOPE by Erik Blegvad
Released: Nov. 17, 1971

"Though skeptics will remain unconvinced by the final bit of family faith healing which absolves Eleanor's guilt over having caused injury to a friend, it's a mind-bending experience to follow her through the fast-paced revelations of her magic lantern catechism."
Reared in the intellectual atmosphere of Concord, Massachusetts by two parents seeped in the abstractions of transcendentalism, it's no wonder that Eleanor turns to the sepia-tinted fantasy world of the stereoscope (a present from her Hindu uncle Prince Krishna) for answers to her questions about guilt, redemption and the nature of the hereafter. Read full book review >
THE SWING IN THE SUMMERHOUSE by Erik Blegvad
Released: May 11, 1967

"Children will remember the giant cash register (WHAT ARE YOU WORTH) and the paper doll party (MAKE NEW WORLDS) and grave little Georgie, the aspiring reader (and the tingling illustrations) much longer than the all-too-obtrusive MESSAGE."
Three characters in search of themselves, with a swing to transport them and Mrs. Truth to light the last stretch: an allegorical fantasy in shifting dimensions. Read full book review >
THE TRANSCENDENTAL MURDER by Jane Langton
Released: Feb. 26, 1963

"For the apropos quotes, the cidery zest of the New England scenes and the half-cracked apple jack humor, the readers will forgive the coincidental solution in a Concord and a library that never was."
Mary Morgan is a high rising librarian (6 ft. tall) in Concord, seat of transcendentalist plain living and high thinking. Read full book review >
THE DIAMOND IN THE WINDOW by Jane Langton
Released: Aug. 29, 1962

"The attempt to weave New England history into the main fabric — to incorporate Thoreau's and Emerson's ideas, is fascinating but may be ineffectual for this age group."
In her first book, The Majesty of Grace, Jane Langton revealed remarkable insight into the inner life of a very normal, very charming little girl — a child the reader could identify with. Read full book review >
THE MAJESTY OF GRACE by Jane Langton
Released: March 1, 1961

"There is profound truth in the lesson of this story, charmingly told, richly humorous, realistic to the core."
A deep understanding of the function of fantasy in a child's life is the basis for this sound story, both touching and instructive, laced through with remarkably funny dialogue. Read full book review >