IN THE HOUSE OF THE QUEEN’S BEASTS by Jean Thesman

IN THE HOUSE OF THE QUEEN’S BEASTS

Age Range: 10 - 12

KIRKUS REVIEW

Fourteen-year-old Emily Shepherd’s life has just gotten better: she and her family have moved away from the school where Emily was ostracized for a facial scar sustained many years ago. She has since undergone corrective surgery and is eager for a fresh start in a place where no one knows her secret. Her family’s recently purchased Victorian is the perfect place to begin this new life. One of the house’s many charms is an elaborate treehouse in the backyard. There, Emily meets Rowan, a neighbor with a secret of her own. In the two teens and their families, Thesman creates highly contrasting characters. The Shepherds are a loud and loving stepfamily. Emily gets along with her mother and says about her stepfather: “My luckiest day was the day Mom married him.” How refreshing! By contrast, Rowan’s father is difficult and demanding, her mother distant and emotionally uninvolved. While Thesman only hints at spousal abuse, at the very least Rowan is not living in a happy, healthy home. Emily and Rowan become friends and discover that they each have something to offer the other: whereas Emily is practical and straightforward, Rowan has a terrific imagination that manifests itself in marvelous wood carvings that decorate the tree house. Emily’s influence on Rowan proves to be quite dramatic, giving Rowan the push she needs to rebel against her father. With only a handful of characters and one main setting, Thesman has crafted a subtle, quiet story of friendship and family dynamics. Emily and Rowan are wonderful characters, and the resolution both girls come to is satisfying. A great read, sure to appeal to middle-school readers. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-670-89288-2
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2000




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