Saturday 15 September 2012

259. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
Published August 2012 Simon & Schuster Books for Younger Readers

From the publisher:
At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. A dark, timeless, and heartfelt novel for fans of Coraline "and The Mysterious Benedict Society." Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster--lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.) But then Lawrence goes missing. And he's not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out...different. Or they don't' come out at all.  If anyone can sort this out, it's Victoria--even if it means getting a little messy.

This year I have tried not to read too many reviews before choosing the books I read, as I didn't want anything or anyone to cloud my opinion of the book. I have made an exception for this book, as I read about it on the Book Smugglers blog and knew I had to read it too!
The book has not been released in Australia yet, so I read this as an ebook. I knew (from what I had read) that I was going to be in for a creepy book, and it was that, think Coraline by Neil Gaiman, with a bit of Alice in Wonderland and maybe even some Matilda by Dahl.

Two very different sorts of people Lawrence (who is always a little bit messy) and Victoria (who likes to have everything ordered), are friends, not so much by choice, but more that no one else wanted them.  Everything is perfect in the town of Belleville, until Victoria begins to notice things seem a little off. The creepiness in the story starts when Victoria stops by to pick Lawrence up for school one day, and he races out of the house because his parents are acting strangely. The next day Lawrence isn't there, apparently he has gone to stay with his Grandmother, Victoria is not convinced.   Then other children seem to have gone missing from school, and no one seems to have noticed, in fact Victoria herself is struggling to remember who these children were. Other adults are acting peculiarly, and then there's the cockroaches that have 10 legs, bite and are suddenly everywhere!

After a bit of investigating and a little bit of research, she has figured out that all of this weirdness has something to do with the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. What goes on when Victoria visits the home to investigate further, I will leave for you to find our for yourself when you read this amazing book.  I will warn you that there are some creepy creatures, the gofers with wrinkled faces, knobs for hands and only one watery yellow eye,  walls and rooms that move, strange puppets and torturous lessons.

As I said earlier, it reminded me of Coraline, that very subtle scary creepiness that lurks in every page.  The behaviour of the adults and the way the town of Belleville functioned (everything 'just so') also reminded me of The Stepford Wives.  It is most definitely not a blood and guts kind of scary read (although there is something in there that has sort of something to do with guts), but it is definitely has the creep factor.

As well as the obvious creepy/scary element of the book, there's also themes of friendship, showing the lengths real friends are willing to go to for each other, and a theme of celebrating individuality, we are all different with different talents and strengths, and we need to be proud of who we are. 

Who will like this book: Girls and Boys age 10+
Read it if you like: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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