Thursday, March 21, 2013
Liza is an imaginative little girl. She loves her pain in the neck little brother Patrick and they both miss their babysitter who went off to college and left them on their own. One morning Liza wakes up and realizes that the little brother she put to bed is not the same one who woke up this morning. Luckily, Anna the babysitter, taught Liza all kinds of important things and so Liza knows just what has happened. Patrick's soul has been stolen by the Spindlers. She's convinced it happened because he forgot to say the charm that keeps them away while you sleep. Now, Anna is away, and Liza can't call her, which means she is the only one who can get Patrick's soul back.
Liza packs up a couple of things, and goes in search of the Spindlers to win back her brother. What she finds is a whole world beneath her house that she never knew existed. She teams up with a rat to find the Spindlers nest. The world below is filled with interesting creatures, reminiscent of many fairy tale and faerie creatures, all given a new and inventive twist. I love how all of the things that you lose in daily life have actually been carted off by the creatures from Below, where they sell them at market. I misplace a lot of stuff, it's just better for me if someone ran off with it.
What did I like about this book? I liked the originality of the story. Liza is a likable girl, and I think the children this book is targeted to would find her easy to identify with. She's afraid, but she keeps going. Patrick is painted as a typical little brother, he's either getting on her nerves, or he's very sweet and she's comforting him, playing with him, or entertaining him. I like that the story has a fairy tale feel, and especially that it has that timeless quality.
I think the book is well written, the pacing is good, the variety of interesting characters and the lessons learned about trust and values are very good. I have to say that I preferred Liesl and Po, but that doesn't really detract from this book. Oliver doesn 't talk down to her readers and her writing is fresh and imaginative. I can see this book and the lovely Liesl and Po standing the test of time. I'm not sure how many recent books can live up to that claim.