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Horton Halfpott: or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset Hardcover – May 1, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tom Angleberger is the author of the runaway bestseller The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, which the New York Times called a "delightful first novel" and which Publishers Weekly dubbed a "snappy debut." He is also a columnist for the Roanoke (Va.) Times. He lives in Christianburg, Virginia, with his wife, the author and illustrator Cece Bell.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 880L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; 1 edition (May 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810997150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810997158
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,169,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By William K. Leonard on May 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The full title of the book is Horton Halfpott, or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor, or The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset. The cover glows in the dark. This, by the way, is only the fun that you get to have before opening the book.

This story is a whole lot of fun. As the titles suggest, the story starts as M'Lady Luggertuck wears her corset a little less tight one day, setting off a strange feel in the air, which sets off all kinds of peculiar events. These culminate in the theft of the Luggertuck family treasure, and all manner of chaos and mayhem as the crime is investigated.

Make no mistake, this is definitely kidlit. It's written at a great level for children. Were I to choose a primer for the later reading of Dickens, though, this would be it. If Charles Dickens himself wrote a piece of modern children's literature, I think it might look a lot like Horton Halfpott. Being a huge Dickens fan, by the way, I do not say this casually.

Horton Halfpott himself could well be a Dickensian protagonist. He's a hard-working, loyal-to-a-fault kitchen boy in Smugwick Manor who gets caught up in the mystery and a plot to kidnap the young lady Celia, a young lady from nearby with whom he falls in love. The boy is every bit as lovable as Oliver Twist, which is saying quite a lot.

The villains and various scoundrels around the story (the head of the kitchen, the Shipless Pirates, etc.) are a true joy to read. The story is a delight. Tom's Acknowledgments credit Charles Dickens with inspiring the story, and it really shows. The sympathy for the poor and downtrodden, contempt for the rich and stuck-up, and celebration of the wealthy and compassionate are so very enjoyable.

The book doesn't take itself too seriously, though.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Angleberger is the guy who wrote a whole book about a fortune-telling origami Yoda, so you shouldn't be surprised by the title of his latest: Horton Halfpott or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset. Right there, you know you're in for an absolutely spiffing romp of a tale!

The story begins with Lady Luggertuck unexpectedly asking her maid to tie her corset a little less tightly. She's never done that before, and the manor house's crew of oppressed servants twitches mildly in the direction of chaos as a result. As the back jacket copy puts it: "Shelves go undusted! Cake is eaten! Lunch is lukewarm!"

Then a family heirloom disappears, and the servants naturally get the blame. But Horton and his friends, the stable boys, who sound like a slightly objectionable law firm (Blight, Blemish, and Bump), are determined to discover the real thief. Along the way, Horton falls hard for a girl above his station and the Shipless Pirates complicate things considerably. Besides which, there's the obligatory sneering villain to make life hard for our hero.

Tongue-in-cheek is Angleberger's rallying cry in this book, as he takes on a traditional genre (um, Upstairs-Downstairs Melodrama? Gothic English Manor House Mystery with Highwaymen?) and makes it his own. Here's young Horton, not to mention the pleasantly intrusive Narrator:

"'Lazy, lazy, lazy boy!' roared Miss Neversly, a middle-aged woman with two hundred years' worth of meanness in her. Her wild black hair whipped across her furious face as she swung her spoon at the servant boy. 'Wretched wart-covered ape!'

"Beware, Reader, do not form an opinion of Horton based on Miss Neversly's cruel words.
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Format: Hardcover
In this delightful children's tale, we are taken into the world of Horton Halfpott, no one special, just the kitchen boy who cannot tell a lie.

Angleberger hooks readers from page one with his introduction paragraph. It's simple - "there are so many exciting things in this book - a stolen diamond, snooping stable boys, a famous detective, the disappearance of a valuable wig, love, pickle eclairs, unbridled evil, and the black deeds of the shipless pirates -"

And thus the author summarizes the entire novel with a simple paragraph. Yet, the plot is more than just that. It is a delightful, chuckle-filled read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
(I just love saying aloud, "M'Lady Luggertuck." It cracks me up.) This book was great fun to read - so much so that after checking it out of the library, I then had to buy it as I knew I would read it again and again.

What a witty, wacky Dickensian story. The characters are well written and the situations in which they are involved can be, at times, hilarious. There are enough plot twists to keep you waiting with bated breath to find out what happens next. Sometimes when an author tries to be too inventive or clever, I find myself reading and rolling my eyes or "tsking" throughout the story. Not so with this book. The story actually is inventive and clever!

I do hope Mr. Angleberger finds it in his heart to turn those mysteries referenced in the story into actual books; i.e., "M'Lady Luggertuck Hires a Tattooed Nanny" and "M'Lady Luggertuck Meets a Handsome Frenchman."
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