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THE KEY TO RONDO by Emily Rodda Kirkus Star


by Emily Rodda

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-545-03535-4
Publisher: Scholastic

Rodda liberally sprinkles nursery-rhyme references and fairy-tale motifs among her own fresh details to create a splendidly vivid world. Leo and his “least-favorite second cousin” Mimi have seen each other annually at Great-Aunt Bethany’s prim afternoon teas. When Great-Aunt Bethany dies and leaves Leo a finely painted music box, he plans to obey its strict rules—“Turn the key three times only,” etc.—but Mimi comes to visit and immediately the music box is overwound. The tiny, delicately bold paintings on its sides come to life, springing into Leo’s bedroom. An evil queen snatches Mimi’s dog back into the music-box world, and Leo and Mimi are off in pursuit. Despite clashing temperaments, the two stick together through their frightening and colorful travels, while adults seem to constantly flip-flop in trustworthiness. Many references are inexplicit and connections left until the satisfying end; Rodda trusts her readers and gives them sweetness and real emotion with zero sentimentality. A perfect companion to Lyn Gardner’s Into the Woods (2007). (Fantasy. 9-12)