Internationally acclaimed author Sonya Hartnett tells a hauntingly beautiful story set during World War II.
Cecily and Jeremy have been sent to live with their uncle Peregrine in the English countryside, safe from the war, along with a young refugee named May. But when Cecily and May find two mysterious boys hiding in the ruins of a nearby castle, an extraordinary adventure begins.
Sonya Hartnett is the award-winning author of several novels for teens, including Thursday’s Child, What the Birds See, Stripes of the Sidestep Wolf, The Ghost’s Child, Butterfly, and the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Surrender. She is also the author of an early chapter book, Sadie and Ratz, illustrated by Ann James. The Children of the King follows two other acclaimed middle-grade novels set in times of war: The Silver Donkey and The Midnight Zoo. In 2008, Sonya Hartnett was awarded the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for the body of her work. She lives in Australia.
The novel rewards careful reading with well-turned phrases and apt metaphors. At the book’s heart are the many believable characters who gradually reveal aspects of themselves as they act, react, and subtly change throughout the novel. ... The writing is accessible, the story flows well, and the plot moves at a good pace. ... Hartnett is a fiercely truthful, accomplished storyteller whose stories have real staying power.
—Booklist (starred review)
Through her likable, vividly wrought characters, Hartnett respectfully captures the depth and ferocity of childhood. The poetic descriptions of the girls’ rural wanderings are to be savored like the best tea and biscuits, but the masterful lyricism never slows the suspenseful story... Mystery and history dance a mesmerizing waltz in this poignant, thoroughly entertaining novel that shows how "[t]he past lives everywhere."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
As always, Hartnett’s gift for language deftly conveys both the sublime and the mundane in life. ... Hartnett grounds the relatively minor fantasy presence in the book with a sincere, heartfelt examination of the pain and hardship endured by civilians in wartime.
—The Horn Book (starred review)
[Hartnett's] writing is superb, carrying echoes of Austen but also touched with a perceptive yet incisive wit that recalls Muriel Spark... An atmospheric concoction, haunted in the nicest possible ways, and readable at various levels of sophistication (and also suitable for an ongoing readaloud). Fans of classic children’s literature will delight in seeing a familiar plot so richly interpreted, and sharp readers will appreciate the provocative new resonance under the old story.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
Satisfying, deeply layered... Thrilling.
Hartnett’s wonderful storytelling and her exquisite writing unite in this multi-layered book, combining a coming-of-age story, accounts of two historical events, and a touch of the supernatural
—Library Media Connection
This story could work as a complementary text for students learning about World War II history, as it gives a glimpse into what everyday life was like and the conflicting feelings that people had about war.
—School Library Journal
The writing is evocative and engrossing, with clever wordplay and imagery and not the slightest hint of condescension. Hartnett expects her readers to think for themselves, which independent readers will appreciate. This appealing, intelligent style and compelling historical narrative makes The Children of the King an excellent book to read aloud.
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