Curiosity House: The Screaming Statue
Authors: Lauren Oliver and H. C. Chester
Anticipated Publication: May 3, 2016! by HarperCollins
Summary: Four orphans with extraordinary abilities and questionable pasts—Pippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max—are happy to be out of harm’s way now that the notorious villain Nicholas Rattigan is halfway across the country in Chicago. But unfortunately their home, Dumfreys’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders, is in danger of closing its doors forever.
But their troubles only get worse. The four friends are shocked when their beloved friend, famous sculptor Siegfried Eckleberger, is murdered. As they investigate, they find clues that his death may be tied to the murder of a rich and powerful New York heiress, as well as to their own pasts.
In this second book in the exceptional Curiosity House series by bestselling author Lauren Oliver and shadowy recluse H. C. Chester, the four extraordinary children must avenge their friend’s death, try to save their home, and unravel the secrets of their past . . . before their past unravels them.
My Review: I actually read the second book in the series before the first, and I had so much fun reading both! The murder mystery kept me guessing throughout the series, and I imagine both middle grade readers and readers of all ages will have great fun with this book! The world of this book feels like it is set about one hundred years ago, so I enjoyed reading sections aloud to my son. We talked with him about “freak shows” and their purpose and existence. He is very young, so the conversation did not get very critical, but I imagine that classroom teachers would have excellent discussions with students about these topics. Each of the characters is very different from the others, which made reading this book so enjoyable. What I enjoyed most about the book (and series) is its accessibility. While the freak show aspect is an element of our past, the book feels like it is set right in this moment, and this is what makes it such an engaging book for readers!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This series is a creative lesson gold mine for teachers. How neat would it be to print pictures from the museum and post them around the room? Students could walk around the room and be inspired to write their own fiction. Then, they might share stories and see how different their perspectives might be. This could lead to conversations about author’s craft and outside inspiration as a writing source.
Learn More about The Curiosity House:
The Book Website, which includes School Resources!: http://www.thecuriosityhouse.com/
Read More about Authors Lauren Oliver and H. C. Chester: http://www.thecuriosityhouse.com/authors.php
Downloadable Character Buttons!
Discussion Questions: Which character was your favorite? What characteristics made the character most interesting to you? How do others respond to this character?; How do you imagine Lauren and H. C. worked together on this project? (Hint: After guessing, take a peek at the interview questions below.); Why might author collaborations be so valuable?
Flagged Passage: “It was only eleven o’clock in the morning and already topping ninety degrees in New York City. The street outside of Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders was as still as a painting.”
**Please note that this passage is from an advanced reader copy and will potentially change with publication.**
Read This Series If You Loved: Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, Mechanical Mind of John Coggin by Elinor Teele, Big Fish by Daniel Wallace, Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
What does your writing process look like? Is it mainly collaborative in nature, or do you work alone?
HCC: My working relationship with Ms. Oliver represents what I regard as the ideal collaborative arrangement. I permit her access to my unique collection of rare and extraordinary artifacts–as well as giving her the invaluable benefit of my encyclopedic knowledge of all things related to the strange and arcane–and she does all the work.
What have you learned from each other while writing these books?
HCC: I have learned that MS. Oliver possesses what can only be termed bananaphobia. My discovery of this strange phenomenon occurred when I invited her to join Trudy and myself for lunch during one of her–Ms. Oliver’s–research trips to my private museum and made the error of ending the meal with what I believed would be a delicious dessert of canned fruit cocktail adorned with hand-cut banana slices. I will spare you a description of the scene that ensued. Let me only say that Trudy was so traumatized that it took her an unusually long span of nearly fifteen minutes to finish off her dish of fruit cocktail.
Lauren, how has writing this series been different from writing your other texts, which explore a much different genre? Has the intended audience affected your writing process in any way?
LO: I actually have two other middle grade books, Liesl and Po, and The Spindlers, so writing for a younger audience wasn’t unfamiliar to me. I really love it, because it gives me a chance to explore my humorous side. And I love how sheerly inventive and, for lack of a better word, kooky you can be with a younger audience.
H.C., what have you learned from this writing process? Has it affected the ways you look at the museum?
HCC: I have learned that the most satisfactory writing process is one in which someone else does all the work. As for your second question, my answer is: not really.
Weighing in at half a ton, Phoebe is tremendously proud of her size and keeps up a rigorous diet regimen that includes toast soaked in bacon fat and whole sticks of butter. The scariest day of her life was when she discovered, that due to the flu, she had lost ten pounds.
Since you’ve left, what adventures have you embarked on? Who do you miss most?
Phoebe: Hugo and I have traveled all over Europe, where we’ve seen things that are truly freakish! Do you know that in France, snails are a delicacy?
Have you maintained the same weight? How has life been for you, in general?
Phoebe: Oh, certainly not! That is one of the strongest misconceptions people have about my weight–that I do not have to work, every day, to maintain my fantastic enormity. But in fact as a child I could barely be considered plump! In order to maintain my beautiful physique, I follow a strict diet of twenty-six meals a day and restrict my exercise to less than one hundred meters.
Will we see you again?
Phoebe: Never say never!