THE BIG HOUSE by Carolyn Coman
Kirkus Star


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 9 - 12
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“No!” Ivy shouts in the courtroom when her parents are sentenced to 25 years in jail for embezzlement. Sure, they’d been to jail before, but never together, and never for so long. When Ivy and her younger brother Ray are sent to live with the very same rich septuagenarian couple who sent their parents “up the river,” Ivy (a quick-study of her dad’s shady dealings and of various courtroom dramas) decrees that they will spend their days scouring the sumptuous mansion for evidence that will acquit her parents. Left to their own devices, the siblings hide out in a rhododendron bush, sentence a fleet of international dolls to do time (“Ivy gave Miss Canada life”), and generally “case the joint.” Ivy is as surprised as anyone when their obsessive hunt actually turns up evidence that forever changes everyone’s fate. This funny, thoroughly entertaining change of pace for Coman seamlessly blends fantasy and reality in that wonderful way children can, and Shepperson’s splendid, Quentin Blake–style illustrations further enliven an engaging story of espionage, family loyalty, and justice prevailing. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2004
ISBN: 1-932425-09-8
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2004


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