Nooks & Crannies

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Nooks & Crannies Book Poster Image
Fun haunted-house romp has great heroine, sweet values.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Set in Edwardian England, Nooks & Crannies offers quite a bit of period detail (such as a character who complains about not having electricity yet, even though it's 1907), snobbery, and social climbing.

Positive Messages

Strong messages of bravery, loyalty, perseverance, problem-solving, friendship. An important character learns a profound lesson in forgiveness and kindness. Some horribly outdated statements about gender roles, but they're made by villainous character: "Remember, men don't like readers, they like pretty, Mrs. Crum was fond of saying."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Heroine Tabitha holds her own in much adversity, coping with cruel parents, sinister adults, bratty kids, a creepy mansion, and possible murderers. Her only friend as the story begins is her mouse, Pemberley, and she remains loyal to him even as she begins to form other friendships. Some of the kids are kind and brave; others are mean, and one girl is a habitual thief.

Violence & Scariness

Much of the violence is cartoonish (for example, one villain's fondness for brandishing kitchen knives), but Nooks & Crannies might be too intense for sensitive kids. As the story opens, the 11-year-old heroine's cruel parents are preparing to flee the country and leave her at an orphanage. Her best friend, Pemberley the mouse, has lost his whole family to violent death and faces much danger himself. A strange old lady turns up dead in a spooky mansion, and kids spend a lot of time wondering if they're next. Weird characters lurk in a possibly haunted house, and several seem to have murder in their past. One of the characters loves arcane gory stories from Executions and Medieval Mishaps.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nooks & Crannies, set in 1907 England, is a fun mash-up of haunted-house thriller and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that may be too intense for some kids, with cartoonish, knife-wielding villains, possible murders, secret passages, and lots of things going bump in the night. Also, several sets of parents are pretty horrible people, particularly heroine Tabitha's abusive mother and father, who keep her in squalor while they live large. As the story opens, they're preparing to dump her in an orphanage and flee the country. Readers who can handle this are in for a treat, with an irresistible, intrepid heroine, plot twists galore, and sweet, positive values of family, friendship, loyalty, and kindness.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5, 8, and 11 year old Written byJen B. August 6, 2018
Kid, 9 years old December 20, 2017

Suspenseful Mystery Full Of Exciting Plot Twists!

Nooks and Crannies was a wonderful book! Parents should know there are a couple murders and one ambush scene to arrest an evil character, and the intensity and... Continue reading

What's the story?

It's 1907 in London, and 11-year-old Tabitha Crum has a hard life: Her parents spend plenty of money on themselves but give her the worst of everything and treat her like a slave. As the story opens, she comes home from school to find them packed up and ready to flee the country (some mix-up at the bank where her father works, her mother says airily), dumping her at the local orphanage on the way. Plans change when the day's mail brings a fancy invitation from a famous -- and very rich -- countess. Soon Tabitha and five other kids are ensconced in a fabulous mansion, where the knife-wielding countess reveals what they're doing there. Odd things begin to happen, and one of their dining companions suddenly turns up dead. It's up to Tabitha and her newfound friends to dodge the dangers, figure out what's going on, and get out alive.

Is it any good?

NOOKS & CRANNIES is a fun, appealing re-imagining of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme, with a plucky, appealing heroine, relatable kid characters, and quite a few plot twists. Kids with abandonment issues might want to skip this one, as Tabitha's parents in particular are awful people determined to ditch her, and she's trying to make the best of her fate. But author Jessica Lawson's lively style keeps the pages turning, and Natalie Andrewson's illustrations add atmosphere and bring the characters to life. Also, Tabitha's a gem.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme: Seemingly random kids are chosen for some epic prize. Which other stories do you know like this? Why do you think they're so popular? Do you have any favorites?

  • Do you know any kids who are adopted? Do you think they have to deal with issues that kids who live with their birth parents don't? What would they be?

  • How would you feel if you discovered you had a long-lost family?

Book details

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