Welcome to Woundabout, where routine rules and change is feared. But transformation is in the wind….
In the wake of tragedy, siblings Connor and Cordelia and their pet capybara are sent to the precariously perched town of Woundabout to live with their eccentric aunt. Woundabout is a place where the mayor has declared that routine rules above all, and no one is allowed to ask questions–because they should already know the answers.
But Connor and Cordelia can’t help their curiosity when they discover a mysterious crank that fits into certain parts of the town, and by winding the crank, places are transformed into something beautiful. When the townspeople see this transformation, they don’t see beauty–they only see change. And change, the mayor says, is something to fear. With the mayor hot on their trail, can Connor and Cordelia find a way to wind Woundabout back to life?
I can’t say enough about this wonderful middle grade novel! Woundabout is the touching — yet not heavy — story of orphaned siblings Connor and Cordelia, who go to live with their aunt Marigold in the very weird town of Woundabout after the death of their parents. Woundabout is a strange, strange place, under the firm control of a dictatorial mayor who hates questions and any deviation from routine. The park is brown and dried up, the river barely flows, and wind constantly buffets the cliffs of the town. Connor and Cordelia, still reeling from their loss, have to adjust to their new lives, and decide to figure out the mysteries of Woundabout, both as diversion and to see if they can somehow find a place for themselves.
The writing is wonderful. There’s humor and a light touch, even on the darkest of subjects. I love the portrayal of Connor and Cordelia (ages 11 and 9), who are tightly bonded, yet each have their own personality and interests. There’s a recurring theme in the writing that takes shared moments and shows how each child sees it:
When the meal was finished, as she had promised, Aunt Marigold took the children into the living room, where they sat on either side of her on a big green sofa and looked at the photos in the album on her lap. It was weird seeing their dad at their age. Connor would have said it was like X-ray vision you couldn’t turn off — seeing through buildings to the beams and metal holding them up; Cordelia would have said it was like uploading your photos to your computer and finding a whole group of pictures you didn’t take. But they both knew it was the same thing.
The author and illustrator, who are brothers, are clearly in sync. The marvelous black and white illustrations throughout the book are wonderfully detailed and expressive, and perfectly capture the personalities of the characters and the town.
I picked up Woundabout because the author, Lev AC Rosen, has written two excellent books for adults, All Men of Genius and Depth (review), both of which I love and always end up recommending to people. How could I not read his fiction for kids as well?
Woundabout is a terrific read — whether you’re an adult who enjoys reading good children’s books for your own enjoyment, or you’re looking for a book to share with the younger folks in your life, or you want a book to give to a young reader. Woundabout strikes me as a good choice for an adult/child read-aloud, or a great book for an independent reader in the 8 – 12 age range (or so — I hate pinning a label on a book that older and younger kids would enjoy too.)
Check it out… for yourself, or for a kid you’d like to treat to a great read.
Author: Lev Rosen
Illustrator: Ellis Rosen
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: June 23, 2015
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Middle grade fiction