The Pirate’s Coin (A 68 Rooms Adventure) by Marianne Malone

pirateI’m delighted with this series–kids using magical objects to shrink down to a tiny size and visit other times and places via the Thorne Rooms in the Chicago Art Institute.  This one was much the same as the others, except in this one, for the first time, the kids see consequences of mucking around in the past (like in Back to the Future.) If I had to criticize it would be to say one of the storylines seemed a bit contrived. I think I would have liked it better if the kids just went into a room, stepped back in time, and had an adventure.  Instead, the adventures had to be tied to action in the present day.  Still, this is a fun adventure, with lots of interesting history thrown in.

Stealing Magic: A Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventure by Marianne Malone

I enjoyed the first book so much I couldn’t wait to read the second adventure. In this sequel the drama is that the key is stolen.  There have also been a string of art thefts and it all seems to be connected.  What was most interesting was the same as before-when the kids go into the little rooms and explore. This time they’ve discovered the special connection that makes some of the rooms be “alive”-that is, they can walk outside the room into the time and place where it is set.  I thought this was a good follow up.

The Sixty-Eight Room by Marianne Malone

When I saw this at the library the other day in the children’s section I had to read it. The premise of the story is that two children are visiting the Art Institute of Chicago and looking at the collection of miniature rooms-the Thorne Rooms.  These rooms are miniature replicas of rooms throughout history from all over the world.  They find a key which shrinks them to a mere 5 inches high-the perfect size to explore these rooms and the magic within them. When I read that I immediately thought of both From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and the little miniature rooms at the Carnegie Museum of Art.  I went to library school at the University of Pittsburgh and spent many happy hours exploring and relaxing in the  art museum and the natural history museum.  In the art museum there was a room that had little rooms-just like the ones in this book! I loved looking at them and imagining myself in them-I found them completely enchanting.  And here’s this book which is basically all about getting to poke around in them! By the way, I wanted to link to the Carnegie’s rooms but I can’t actually find anything on their website, though if you google “Carnegie Museum of Art miniature rooms” you’ll find plenty or images and references to them.

I found this book perfect-it told a story that is exactly the sort of thing I like to imagine and if this book had been around when I was a kid I would have been thrilled.  I’ve put myself on hold for the sequel and let’s hope I remember to tell my kids about it when they are older.