The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone
Holy Boring Batman!
Our school district has this great (or could be great) idea: One District, One Book. The idea is the school district will give each family a copy of the same district-selected book and have all parents read the book to their kids. Could be fun, right? Except they keep choosing these horribly boring books! Last year it was The Doll People, about doll-house dolls that are really alive but have to not let the humans know. This year the book was The Sixty-Eight Rooms, about kids who find a key that shrinks them down to 5 inches tall and they get to explore the Thorne Rooms (realistic miniature rooms–picture fancy doll house rooms) at the Chicago Art Institue.
Sense a theme?
I guess The Sixty-Eight Rooms could have been a fun story, but it’s like the author has some personal mission to educate 8-year-olds on the glories of life as an artist. There were long breaks in the story where the characters wouldn’t be doing anything but, ummm . . . I don’t even know. I’m sitting here trying to remember what they did but I can’t. All I know is that they did NOTHING to advance the plot of the story and it drove me crazy!!!
Plus, Jack and Ruthie, the 11-year-old main characters, are liers. They lied to their parents multiple times. One biggie–they each told their parents they were spending the night at the other’s house when in reality they spent the night at the museum. The parents almost found out their deception a few times, and the kids had to tell more lies to keep them from discovering the truth. They get away with their lies, never face consequences, and instead get to have magical adventures. There were multiple times I had to pause the story and remind my kids that these kids of lies are not okay.
Oh, and I’m all for 11-year-old girls and boys being best friends with each other, but spending the night at each others houses? The book is 100% innocent, but seriously?
Why did the school district make us read such a lame-o book?
The kids didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. The only thing the kids liked is that I was reading to them. Read to your kids. But do not read them this book!
So, Mrs. Malone came to visit my kids school today, and the daughter of a friend who has been discussing this book with me raised her hand and ask the auther why the kids lied in her story. Instead of using the opportunity to teach the kids, guess what she said? She told the kids “that the lies did not hurt anyone and the kids told the lies because staying at the museum was a once in a lifetime opportunity.” How disappointing! I came back thinking I’d lower my rating of the book by a star, but when I got here I’d already given it the lowest possible rating!