- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 0710 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (January 19, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553520709
- ISBN-13: 978-0553520705
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Goblin's Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice Hardcover – January 19, 2016
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"Witty, wise, and full of adventure, The Goblin’s Puzzle delighted me with every turn of the page." —Liesl Shurtliff, New York Times bestselling author of Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin
"An adventure bursting with wit and charm. The characters are fresh, the story is thrilling, and the puzzles are downright diabolical. A wonderful book." —Jonathan Auxier, author of The Night Gardener
"Brimming with sarcastic, cheeky, laugh-out-loud humor, this is a smart, original, and completely engaging adventure." —School Library Journal, starred review
"Combines the unpredictability of a Monty Python skit with traces of the Brothers Grimm... Chilton’s novel is sure to please readers looking for a fresh spin on cherished fairy tale conventions."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Chilton crafts a sharp and engaging fantasy world that, in the vein of William Steig's Shrek! (1990), satirizes conventional fairy-tale themes while employing them to pen an original story." —Kirkus
About the Author
Andrew S. Chilton drew inspiration for The Goblin’s Puzzle from a wide variety of sources, ranging from The Hobbit to Monty Python to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. As a kid, he gobbled up fantasy novels and logic puzzles, and as an adult, he spent over ten years as a practicing lawyer before launching his career as a writer. He lives in Los Angeles, California. This is his first novel.
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Top customer reviews
It takes a certain amount of either courage, or chutzpah, or both to:
A) write a kids book that depends on wordplay and puzzles for much of its clout
B) Have it take place in a fantastic world of strange creatures who mingle with the human characters, and
C) Have it feature not one but TWO "Alice's", not to mention a slave boy with no name!
A slave boy with no name?
I told you NOT TO MENTION HIM!
The remarkable thing is that author Chilton comes thiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssss close to actually pulling it off!
What keeps it from total success is, well, if you're of a "certain age" you might remember those old movie musicals, not the big ones, the "B" ones that had little or no plot/script and what there wa, was mainly there to separate and lead up to, the musical numbers.
So it is here.
Although, admittedly, there may be TOO MUCH plot, it seems, all too often, to be no more than clunkily written intros/outtros to the (very good) wordplay and puzzles
But, if you like that sort of thing, and I DO! I DO!, you'll like this sort of thing, as well
This is precisely what happened to me while reading The Goblin's Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice. This book had the perfect amount of funny-meets-history in its world building. There was so much William Goldman/Douglas Adams-ocity in every chapter that if there were a club that belonged to writers who somehow perfectly balanced tongue-in-cheekiness with heart-pounding action then Andrew S. Chilton would be elected the Treasurer or possibly even the Very Nearly Vice President.
In fact, balance is really what makes this book so outstanding. Andrew gives us time to breathe while we read. There are moments when we're allowed to enjoy the scenery or soak in the subtle nuances that make each character's voice so enjoyable. And then we're thrown right back into the thrills with dragons and riddles and evil plots galore. He never lingers too long on a joke and the scene changes right when it should. There are just as many laugh-out-loud moments as there are gasp-worthy ones. The balance is simply outstanding, making this an ideal book for any reader--young or old, reluctant or word-hungry, boy or girl, human or goblin.
All in all, I'd go 3 1/2 stars. The premise is awesome, the characters are pretty well done, but the book itself is just a bit hard to fall into.
As the title makes apparent, this novel is both playful and a ripping good adventure story. In the very first chapter, a nameless boy becomes an accessory to a crime punishable by death when he fails to protect his master from a murderous fellow slave, while elsewhere in the kingdom, a disgruntled nobleman conjures a dragon. The nobleman is the diabolical Duke Geoffrey, who is incensed that the king plans to change the laws of succession so that the crown can be passed to the king’s daughter, Princess Alice. He summons a dragon to kidnap the princess and solve his problems once and for all.
But the dragon (who’s named Ludwig and is actually a pretty nice guy, as dragons go) kidnaps the wrong Alice, instead capturing a girl known as Plain Alice (even though she’s actually rather pretty). Plain Alice is sharp as a tack --- she’s been studying for years in the hopes that she might someday be invited to become a sage like her father.
As for that nameless boy, he winds up on running for his life, on the way taking up company with a goblin named Mennofar (for short) and getting enlisted to rescue Plain Alice. Since the goblin knows everything, he knows the true story of the boy’s origins and the reason he doesn’t have a name. However, he won’t tell, so the boy tries to figure out which of the countless folk and fairy tale tropes he might fit into --- because he must be a hero, right?
Chilton is obviously well-versed in fantasy literature and lore, from classic characters and situations to plots and puzzles. But the novel also has a refreshing, contemporary feel and plenty of modern-day originality, with humor in abundance and jokes that kids and their parents (if they’re lucky enough to get to read this aloud) will enjoy equally. And as for those puzzles, they will keep readers guessing throughout; in fact, the novel itself acts as a sort of puzzle, with numerous pieces that fit together into an intricate and thoroughly satisfying whole.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl