Published by Yearling/Random House, 2011
Twelve-year-old Clara Dooley has spent her whole life in the crumbling Glendoveer mansion, home to a magician's widow, a cage full of exotic birds, and a decades-old mystery. Clara loves old Mrs. Glendoveer, but the birds in the aviary frighten her—they always seem to screech and squall whenever she's near. And then one day, the mynah bird speaks, and a mystery starts to unravel.
Clara discovers dark secrets about the family, and about her own past. Somehow the birds in the aviary seem to be at the center of it all, and Clara can't shake the feeling that they are trying to tell her something. . . .
I liked the spookiness of this mystery, as well as the historical time period. It’s a quiet, mysterious story, so don’t expect a lot of fast-paced action (though there are some action sequences near the end). It reminded me a little of The Secret Garden, since the main character, Clara is stuck in the house all the time with a supposed heart condition. Talking birds and a magician's secrets were intriguing.
As a writer, I’d read this to study how the author used details to create atmosphere and setting. The language and dialogue structure suits the historical tone of the story.
“As a young child, Clara Dooley had felt that the Glendoveer mansion contained the whole world.”
Kathleen O’Dell lives in Los Angeles. She once worked in a library at her children’s school and that’s what inspired her to try writing a children’s novel.
On her website, she gives this advice to aspiring writers: “When you find a writer you like, imitate them for fun. Try to figure out what they do and how they do it.”
Other Books Include:
Agnes Parker... Girl in Progress
Agnes Parker... Happy Camper?
Agnes Parker... Keeping Cool in Middle School
Ophie Out of Oz
For more info, visit Kathleen O’Dell’s website.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by author Shannon Messenger. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!