- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 4 - 6
- Lexile Measure: 740 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 376 pages
- Publisher: Carolrhoda Books; No Additional Printings Listed edition (October 1, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1512401358
- ISBN-13: 978-1512401356
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #816,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Secret of Goldenrod Hardcover – October 1, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—When Trina's dad, Poppo, agrees to renovate Goldenrod, an abandoned mansion in New Royal, IA, over the course of a year, Trina hopes they can make a home for themselves. However, her new life doesn't go quite as planned. Trina finds out Poppo forgot to enroll her in school, a local bully targets her once she does get there, and a creepy presence at the house makes Trina wonder if Goldenrod is really a haunted magnet of bad luck. When Trina unexpectedly finds Augustine, a talking antique porcelain doll, her luck turns and life in New Royal may just become what she was hoping for. Though the slow start may dissuade some, those who keep reading will be rewarded by this unique twist on the traditional haunted house story. VERDICT A strong additional purchase for those who enjoyed Jennifer Chambliss Bertman's Book Scavenger and Tess Hilmo's With a Name Like Love.—Rebecca Quinones, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
A Junior Library Guild selection.
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"The house was not what she had expected. It didn't need to be fixed up. It needed to be torn down. Boards covered all the windows, and the few shutters that remained dangled from their hinges. Pillars that would have held up a porch roof, if the porch had still been there, lay in the weeds like fallen trees."
Several opening chapters are dedicated to emphasizing that Goldenrod has a reputation for being haunted, but this isn't a horror novel. The authors ops for whimsy over scary, playing off of nearly every child's secret hope that his or her toys will come to life. Goldenrod is no ordinary house, but not for the reasons first presented.
Packed with small town vibes, childish innocence, and writing that is sweet in its simplicity, The Secret of Goldenrod is a tale of one compassionate little girl yearning for friendship and finding it in unlikely places.
Trina Maxwell is a 5th grader who has spent most of her life moving around. Her father is a carpenter who restores houses. Her mother left eight years ago. Trina treasures the postcards her mom sends her from around the world.
The current project, the restoration of a Victorian house named 'Goldenrod,' could take as long as a year. Trina is looking forward to spending an entire school year in the same school. (This former Air Force brat sympathizes.) She's also looking forward to living at Goldenrod.
Trina's enthusiasm for the house dies when she sees it. It seems spooky. Her enthusiasm for going to school in New Royal, Iowa, dies when she meets her classmates, especially mean girl Charlotte. The school is having Trina be called by her real name, 'Citrine '. Charlotte uses a rhyming word to give her a hateful nickname.
Although 'Poppo' tells Trina there is no such thing as a haunted house, the folks in New Royal believe that Goldenrod is haunted. Her classmates don't believe that Trina is actually living there. After all, New Royal kids have been trying to spent the night at Goldenrod since old Miss Kitty of the Cat's Meow Diner was a kid. No one ever made it through the entire night. (Trina learns this after spending her first, hardly restful, night there.)
Then Trina finds her way into the house's turret room. There she discovers a shabby dollhouse with one little porcelain doll in it. I loved it when the doll starts talking to Trina. It's August, so the doll is dubbed 'Augustine'.
Trina not only helps her father restore the main house, she works on restoring the doll house to its former splendor. Trina's goes to the New Royal Public Library to find out more about the family who first owned Goldenrod and their little girl, Annie, who owned Augustine. There librarian Peter Kinghorn answers some of her questions. It's a sad story. Poor Annie was born before an effective vaccine was widely available.
I didn't know why the house was almost completely empty when the Maxwells got there. What happened to the furnishings and how they come back is a running subplot. I'm particularly impressed by the large and heavy dining room table's disappearance.
Another subplot is Augustine's obsession with fairy tales. She wants to find her prince. This leads to a tense and comic scene at school.
I think it's interesting that citrine, which is one of what used to be called semi precious gemstones, is often golden colored. If you believe that crystals have power, the powers claimed for citrine are certainly what Trina needs. Trina may have her own needs, but she also has the feeling that Goldenrod needs her. If only she could figure out what the house is trying to tell her.
Whether or not the house is haunted seems to be answered one stormy evening after Trina and her father have a very big quarrel. Mike Maxwell meant it for the best, but Trina doesn't feel that way. I don't blame her for that, either.
Chapter 9: "Shone" is for light and reflections of light when they aren't the object of the action. "Shined" is used if some one has been shining something. When Trina polished the dollhouse banister, it shone, not shined.
Chapter 21: Ahem -- a tomato costume would could be used to go as one from the delightfully silly 1978 movie "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" or its 1990-1991 cartoon spinoff with the same title. (I can recommend the first season of the cartoon. I stopped watching when the animation art got worse in the second.)
a. It was the witches of the North and South who were good in the first Oz book.
b.. Clarence the Angel is from that lovely movie, "It's a Wonderful Life".
c. Sherlock Holmes' deerstalker cap-wearing was started in 1891 by his illustrator, Sidney Paget, not his author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so Holmes wearing a top hot is fine.
d. "Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charm"' is the song used in old Warner Brothers cartoons where a musical instrument is rigged to explode, but the intended victim keeps missing that note.
Various mysteries get solved, Augustine is pleased, and Trina finds some of her wishes coming true in a story that I would have loved to have read when I was the target age (8 - 12), and I still loved reading although I'm 63. I highly recommend THE SECRET OF GOLDENROD to middle school readers and adults who never lost their taste for good children's books.
While there are a few mild scares at first, this is really a whimsical magical story about a young girl trying to create a home with her father while he is valiantly trying to make up to his daughter for her missing mother. The characters are deftly drawn and the love between Trina and her father is palpable. There is a sense of wonder and play and joy in this book that makes it a pleasure to read and I loved it.