Whether it's because she would rather write stories alone than hang out with her gossiping classmates or because she lives in the Visconti House, a crumbling Italianate villa (which, everyone assumes, must be haunted), Year 8 Aussie Laura Horton always feels like an outsider. When Leon Murphy, a loner in his own right, moves in with his odd grandmother, Laura notices that they have more in common than she originally thought, including wanting to solve the mystery behind Mr. Visconti, his once-ornate house and the woman he loved. Debut author Edgar's quiet, old-fashioned storytelling, in which the children can sound older than their years, celebrates curiosity, hidden treasures and impromptu gatherings with spirited and creative family members. In the process of ferreting out the secrets of Mr. Visconti and his formerly splendid estate (with written letters, interviews and intuition rather than the Internet), Laura also discovers friendship, romance and accepting the differences in herself and others. Fans of Blue Balliett and Elise Broach's Shakespeare's Secret (2005) will enjoy another puzzle to solve. (author's note) (Mystery. 9-12)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Edgar's debut is a captivating story of friendship, mystery, and romance set in her native Australia. Laura feels like an outsider in her new town. Her parents are odd, her hair is odd, her hobbies are odd, and even though she lives in an old rundown mansion--which she loves--it's certainly not like other people's houses. What she really wants is to be normal, and that doesn't include hanging out with the weird new boy, Leon. But her curiosity is sparked when his grandmother mentions that she used to see lonely old Mr. Visconti on his walks, and Laura accepts Leon's help with her self-assigned project to learn more about the builder of her house. As they uncover clues and unravel the details of Visconti's tragic romance, Laura realizes that the more she spends time with Leon, the more she misses him when he's not around. In Edgar's hands Laura's house almost lives and breathes as Visconti's life is revealed; her evocative writing and inviting characters will draw readers in to this gentle examination of acceptance, diversity, and self-esteem. Ages 9-up. (Feb.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 5-8--Two lonely grade-eight kids in rural Australia develop a friendship as they work together to unlock a mystery. Laura feels like an outcast because of her family's artist lifestyle, her curly hair and bushy eyebrows, and the decaying mansion she calls home. Leon, newer to the area, is ostracized for living with his grandmother, the rumors that circulate about his father being in prison, and his shabby appearance. The friendship between the two progresses slowly because Laura, desperate to fit in, is embarrassed to be seen with Leon. As they work together to uncover the history of Laura's house and Mr. Visconti--its original owner--and his tragic love story, Laura learns to understand the value of friendship. Part realistic fiction, part mystery, and part romance, Edgar's first novel is a good blend of simple prose and descriptive imagery and language, and the story behind Mr. Visconti and the house offers some interesting twists. Readers will identify with Laura's desire to fit in and root for the friendship that develops between the two characters.--Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ[Page 106]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.