The Sixty-Eight Rooms (Sixty-Eight Rooms #1)

 
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The Sixty-Eight Rooms (Sixty-Eight Rooms #1)
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Publisher
Age Range
8+
Release Date
February 23, 2010
ISBN
0375857109
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Almost everybody who has grown up in Chicago knows about the Thorne Rooms. Housed in the Children’s Galleries of the Chicago Art Institute, they are a collection of 68 exquisitely crafted miniature rooms made in the 1930s by Mrs. James Ward Thorne. Each of the 68 rooms is designed in the style of a different historic period, and every detail is perfect, from the knobs on the doors to the candles in the candlesticks. Some might even say, the rooms are magic. Imagine—what if you discovered a key that allowed you to shrink so that you were small enough to sneak inside and explore the rooms’ secrets? What if you discovered that others had done so before you? And that someone had left something important behind? Fans of Chasing Vermeer, The Doll People, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler will be swept up in the magic of this exciting art adventure!

Editor reviews

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Miniature Rooms Come to Life
Overall rating 
 
2.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
2.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
While on a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, Ruthie and Jack discover the Thorne Roomssixty-eight intricately miniature rooms of varying time periods that captivate both of them. As they visit the rooms, they happen upon a magical key that shrinks them to a height of five inches. Later, the pair finds a way to sneak into the museum, shrink and visit the actual interiors of the Thorne rooms. But Ruthie and Jack discover there is far more to the rooms than meets the eye.

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone reminds the reader of a cross between The Indian in the Cupboard and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler but told without the skill of those timeless books.

Although well-conceived and well-plotted with a great premise, the book frequently feels forced; it bravely tries to delight with the inherent magic of the Thorne rooms but seems too structural; its plotting does not feel innate and the ending is not at all fresh. It tells when it should show and explains when character development should stand on its own. It also explains technicalities, e.g., how the characters get into and out of and back into rooms rather than actual exploration of the rooms. This weighs down the tale.

On the whole, newcomer Malones debut novel comes across like a first novela good effort, but not great. On the upside, the novel creates awareness of the Thorne Rooms and the Art Institute of Chicago and does engender a certain amount of curiosity about the exhibit.
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The Sixty-Eight Rooms (A Room with Books review)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
The Sixty-Eight Rooms wasn't the epic adventure I usually read when it comes to middle grade, but it was still cute. The story wasn't overly complicated, but it was definitely enough to keep me interested, especially since the story goes beyond the Thorne Rooms. When I went in I thought it was just going to be about Ruthie exploring the miniature rooms and that would be that for the most part, but it was much more than that. If you want a cute, quick read that has a dash of magic then The Sixty-Eight Rooms is what you're looking for.
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