A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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 Some horribly outdated statements about gender roles, but they're made by villainous character: "Remember, men don't like readers, they like pretty, Mrs.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
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.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In one scene, the adults are served champagne, and the kids get a tiny amount.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.