At the start of Rodda's (the Deltora Quest series) proficient, old-fashioned fantasy, Leo's great-aunt Bethany has bequeathed him the Langlander family treasure: a music box with minutely painted details of a realm populated, as Leo discovers, by fairytale and nursery rhyme characters. Specific rules govern the music box, as all Bethany's relatives know, and dependable Leo plans to obey them strictly. But when his much-loathed cousin Mimi arrives for an extended stay, she seizes the first opportunity to break them. Suddenly figures on the box seem to have moved from their spots-and could it be that its butterflies now fly in Leo's room? Before long the children have summoned a sorceress, who lures them into Rondo by returning there with Mimi's dog in tow. This novel offers many elements characteristic of classic children's fantasy: an alternate world, a magical object that bridges worlds, two unsupervised child protagonists on a quest, tension about the protagonists' ability to get home again. Rodda's embellishments-the children find Langlander relatives in Rondo and discover that in Rondo their family history serves as fairytale-add some texture as well as originality. Ages 9-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-6-When Leo's annoying cousin, Mimi, and her dog arrive for an extended visit, she encourages him to break the rules that accompany the family music box left to him by Great Aunt Bethany. Overwinding the box opens the gate to Rondo, and the Blue Queen jumps into their world and kidnaps Mutt. Mimi insists on rescuing him and follows her back into the fairy-tale world of the music box, and Leo is dragged along as he attempts to stop his cousin. The two children travel over the sides of the box from the town market scene, to the Flitter wood full of pixielike creatures guiding them, to the Dark Forest, and finally to the palace of the Queen. Along the way traditional characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales appear to help or hinder their progress, from Old MacDonald to Grandma, who was once tricked by the wolf. The ground is infested with "dots," gingerbread men who are kept away by a sly fox and a brave pig (who went to work after her house was blown down). While the characters and writing are neither complex nor literary, children will get a thrill from identifying the familiar tales referenced. The rollicking, action-packed plot moves along quickly and twists keep readers guessing. Not quite as well crafted as Cornelia Funke's Inkheart (Scholastic, 2003), this story will likely appeal to a less-experienced, less-sophisticated audience.-Kelly Vikstrom, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.