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Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, & a Very Strange Adventure Hardcover – April 3, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Stuart Horten, 10, is sure he is in for the dullest summer ever when he moves with his working-all-the-time mom and dork-supreme dad, who is excited to return to the town he grew up in. Stuart’s lack of enthusiasm is compounded by a set of nosy triplet girls next door, but things start looking up when he learns about how his great-uncle Tony—who was a magician of some renown and an inventor of fabulous contraptions—disappeared years ago. And then things get downright exciting when he discovers a handful of old coins that unlock a series of clues scattered about town that promise to reveal the location of Tony’s long-hidden workshop. Stuart is a likable, plucky little guy, the Charlie Bucket to great-uncle Tony’s Willy Wonka. While the mystery is tempered by the fact that solutions to the clues often come about more by happenstance than any cunning on Stuart’s part, the elements of magical realism that waft through the narrative keep things humming along nicely. This British import, longlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, leaves the door ajar for more adventures. Grades 4-7. --Ian Chipman

Review

"Wacky, funny and ever so mysterious, this clever tale hits the ground running and never lets up.
Very short 10-year-old Stuart Horten—S. Horten, get it?—thinks he’s facing a long, boring summer when his parents pack the three of them up and move to his father’s hometown as school lets out. His parents are a pleasantly oblivious pair: His mom is an unimaginative doctor, and his father designs crosswords for a living. (He joyfully tosses around hundred-dollar words like 'prestidigitator' and 'perambulation.') Stuart quickly discovers the long-abandoned home of his great uncle Teeny-Tiny Tony Horton, a famous magician who disappeared 50 years before, and the puzzle box left to his incurious father. Resourceful Stuart wants to learn more, but he’s plagued by the girl next door, who’s intently following him everywhere. Just as a fabulous clue appears in a vandalized phone booth, the prying girl, April, shows up, and it turns out she’s identical twins—oh, no! triplets—April, May and June. And they’re shortly followed by the villainous, entrepreneurial Jeannie, hot on Stuart’s heels. The pace is rapid, the clues to Tony’s disappearance are intriguing and the characters are vividly—often hilariously—drawn. Irony runs hand in hand with just enough believable danger to create palpable tension.
A vastly engaging, must-read mystery infused with the perfect touch of captivating conjuration—er, magic." --Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) 
 
“Evans borrows several classic tropes and themes-magic, riddles, a quest, and even a night at a museum-for the entertaining story of 10-year-old Stuart Horten (often nicknamed “Shorten” for his small stature) who stumbles into a family mystery when he and his parents move to the small British town of Beeton. There, Stuart discovers that his Great-Uncle Tony Horten, who disappeared years ago without a trace, was both an inventor of mechanical devices and a magician. A chance phone call in a broken phone booth is the first step in a journey that leads Stuart around town, as he unearths his great-uncle's legacy and secrets. Stuart also draws the attention of April, May, and June (the journalistically inclined triplets next door), as well as Beeton residents with more sinister intentions. Evans has crafted an old-fashioned mystery of the kids-besting-clueless-adults variety. Stuart's dweeby parents are particularly hapless (his father, a crossword puzzle creator, regularly drops lines like “Behold, I bring hydration for your powwow”). First published in the U.K., Evans's story leaves the door open for the sequel due in September.” --Publishers Weekly

“Stuart is a likable, plucky little guy, the Charlie Bucket to great-uncle Tony's Willy Wonka…The elements of magical realism that waft through the narrative keep things humming along nicely. This British import, long listed for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, leaves the door ajar for more adventures.” --Booklist
 
“Small Stuart embarks on an awfully big adventure in this quirky puzzle-solving novel….Each more curious than the one before, the far-fetched solutions they require bring the book to a hugely satisfying conclusion.” --The Guardian

 “An adventure that will enthrall smaller people and the adults reading to them in equal measure.” --The Independent

“The action cracks along at a good pace and is a brilliant pre-teen magical mystery story.” --The Bookbag

“This story has time travel, dastardly villains, lots of machinery and some seriously good adventures!” --Fun Kids
 

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 6
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Series: Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling Children's Books (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402798067
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402798061
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.2 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #321,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By H. Killough-Walden on April 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my daughter, along with a few other young adult novels. I left the stack on the coffee table and as I took a moment to rest, I just reached over, touched upon the top book, and opened it. What a wonderful, fateful moment. Twenty minutes later, I realized I was still reading. Everything around me had been forgotten - my work (I work at home), my responsibilities, everything. I kept reading, literally staying up ALL NIGHT (like I have neither the time nor the energy to do), allowing myself to be pulled page by page into a world where every mystery solved was a doorway to two more mysteries. The pictures were painted in such vivid, striking detail, I saw them in perfect clarity; it was like watching a movie and in fact, I could almost hear music playing during some of the more emotional or harrowing scenes in the book. The story telling was poignant in moments of times gone by, the majesty of magic and what it once was, and in the reality of war. And it was hilarious in moments of childhood, faulty and fabulous parenting, and sheer dumb luck. The author has a tremendous sense of humor.
I felt myself as if glued to the main character, Stuart. Everything he saw and did, I saw and did. When he hit his head, I swear my head began to hurt. Just a little.
This book is a gem. It's a story of magic wrapped up in a piece of magic unto itself. It would make a fantastic movie - though there is already one in my head now and I am in no hurry to mess with it.
If you choose to read in order to take your leave of the harsh, loud, chaos of reality, and if you would rather spend your valuable time locked in mystery and magic than in the contemporary problems of modern day in and day out existence, then this is your book. I can't wait to read the sequel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sue Morris from Kid Lit Reviews on August 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have to go away, and I may not be
able to get back. If I don't return, then my
workshop and all it contains is yours if you
can find it--and if you can find it, then
you're the right sort of boy to have it.

Affectionately,

Your uncle Tony

P.S. Start in the telephone booth on
Main Street.

Back cover: When ten-year-old Stuart stumbles upon a note daring him to find his great uncle's hidden workshop, full of wonderful mechanisms, trickery, and magic, he sets out on a Willy Wonka-like adventure of a lifetime. In order to find the place, Stuart must believe the unbelievable--while dodging the annoyingly prying eyes of his triplet neighbors, April, May, and June. With clues to follow, puzzles to solve, and the quirkiest characters, this uniquely charming fiction debut by comedienne Lissa Evans is sure to enchant middle-grade readers--and believers--everywhere.

Stuart Horten is tens-years-old and short for his age. This is unusual since both his parents are "very tall." They are also clever people, hence Stuart's name: S. Horten. Mom is a researcher in the medical field and Dad is a cruciverbalist--writer of crosswords puzzles--and he loves to
speak words any kid would consider odd and embarrassing.

I was just thinking of going for a brief perambulation.
This whole area was sylvan.
An epistle for you, said his father, placing the envelope on the table.

This clever insertion of difficult and unusual words, with the definition placed in the dialogue, all without stopping a beat in the flow of the story, reminded me of the Lemony Snicket series A Series of Unfortunate Events.

The Horten's move away from the home Stuart treasures.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sojournarita on July 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
What an excellent read! I started out to pre-read it for content for my children. I fell in love with it and along with way was giving my children tidbits of what I was reading... They can't wait. They are currently listening to "Children of the Lamp" book series, which they love!! and reading "Another Whole Nother Story" Voracious readers, I sometime struggle with keeping up. (The kids are 7, 7, 9).

I found the characters adorable and charismatic with the drive you hope your children demonstrate. I love the way the parents are described and how if you truly believe then the right person will find the clues. I loved the mystery a little bit of danger, breaking of the rules, but for the right reasons and understanding the politics involved. The Villain, well placed in the town and the understanding of what drives her. It all comes together very well.

I highly suggest this book for your children if they are interested in mystery, magic, puzzles, being strong and trusting themselves type books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By theEPICrat on May 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms reminds me of The Phantom Tollbooth or Coraline where a young person manages to find his or her way into some wonderful and magical adventure where anything - especially that of an unexpected nature - can happen. This was a charming yet awfully short read, and I loved watching Stuart try to decipher his uncle's encrypted messages and learn about his family legacy in magic-making. I also enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Horten's quirks, especially Mr. Horten's crossword-inventing self that would thrown in the most random of comments. I did wish that the book had spent more time on expanding on the minor characters, especially the triplets, because they came onto the page with all sorts of interesting things to say, but then left shortly without really getting too embroiled in Stuart's adventure. Overall though, Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms can be a wonderful discovery for a young reader with a big imagination and a love for all things fantastic.
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