Monday, January 16, 2012

"The House on Parchment Street" by Patricia A McKillip (Book Thoughts)

I know you're all anxiously waiting for me to announce the winner of the awesome YA novel, Shadow Dancer. One lucky person will be the recipient of the first book in Courtney Rene's Shadow Trilogy! Hopefully, they will love it as much as I did and HAVE to get their hands on the already released second novel, Shadow Warrior.  But I can't just announce the winner right away! Why don't you sit back, relax, and read this week's post, first. I promise I'll get to the winner...

I've decided to make Book Thoughts a monthly feature.
Since I read old books and new books in multiple genres, you just never know what I'll have to share with you.

I came across this month's book, "The House on Parchment Street," by accident. I have a friend who frequents garage sales and consignment shops and this past summer I asked her to pick up as many children's books as she could find so I could send them off to another writing friend who donates them to sick children. I kept a couple of the books she gave me so I could get a feel for different age groups and genres of children's books.

Carol, a quirky fifteen-year-old American girl, visits family in England. Her fourteen-year-old cousin, Bruce, lives in a three hundred-year-old house which he hates. Carol and Bruce don't get along at all until they discover they have both seen the ghosts in cellar. They work together to discover the reason why the ghosts are still roaming the property and in the meantime, discover things about themselves and each other.

"The House on Parchment Street" was first printed in 1973. 1973!! That's about the time I would have been eleven years old and just the right age to read this middle grade mystery book.

When I read the back cover, the story line appealed to me, and the cover intrigued me. There are also some great drawings by Charles Robinson, scattered throughout the book.

First of all, the book opens with Carol, sitting barefoot on her suitcase on Parchment Street. She had flown into London and then taken a bus into the countryside where her mother's family lives. She hadn't waited for her aunt and uncle to pick her up at the airport because she forgot. I found this a little unbelievable, but the whole barefoot thing really threw me for a loop.

When her uncle confronts Bruce about being spotted smoking a cigarette, the uncle says, "You're old enough to make those kind of decisions..." What??

Anyway, I found the dialogue herky-jerky and very preachy (except when it came to smoking cigarettes). There were entire paragraphs of dialog that weren't really needed in the story, and a whole lot of telling instead of showing, specifically with adverbs in the dialog tags.

I really liked the story idea and I don't mean to be harsh. I realize 1973 was a totally different time, but this book was reprinted in 1991, and the fact that parts of the story were not changed, surprises me. Needless to say, I was disappointed with the writing and I'm glad today's publishing industry demands quality writing for children.


Do you have a book suggestion or your own published book you'd like me to read? Drop me an e-mail at


OopS! I almost forgot...No, I'm just kidding. Thank you to everyone who read my interview with Courtney and for leaving a comment. Ok, here goes...
Drum roll, please.....The winner of the Shadow Dancer giveaway is...Anne Johnson!
Congratulations, Anne!  I will be contacting you soon for your information so you can get your copy of Shadow Dancer.