- The Alarming Career of Sir Richard Blackstone by Lisa Doan
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5107-1122-8 $15.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-5107-1123-5 $15.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-6
Living on the dirty, dangerous streets of Victorian London is a more appealing option for twelve-year-old Henry than staying with his abusive parents, even with the trouble the boy meets the city’s shady underbelly. His fortunes change when he stumbles, quite literally, across Sir Richard Blackstone, a scientist urgently in need of an assistant, and Sir Richard offers him the position on the spot. Henry is soon whisked off to Sir Richard’s country estate, where he discovers that Sir Richard is a bit of an eccentric when it comes to science. When a giant tarantula, an unfortunate result of one of Sir Richard’s experiments, escapes, Henry joins Sir Richard in his hunt to track the creature down; in an odd twist, the process leads Henry to discover the secrets of his and his family’s origin. This is a quirky little romp through colorful history, with characters that stretch just far enough into wackiness to be entertaining but not overwritten. Sir Richard is an amiable eccentric, Henry makes a pleasing plucky hero, and the mustache-twirling (figuratively) and appropriately named Mr. Snidefellow serves as an excellent nemesis for Sir Richard. The mystery of Henry’s backstory becomes obvious fairly quickly, but readers are unlikely to care as they find themselves in Henry’s good company, tracking down an enormous arachnid, dealing with Sir Richard’s pet piranhas, and finding a cozy, weird home.