When the good folks at TRICYCLE PRESS, publisher of children’s books, sent me this volume, I wasn’t sure I would care for it. It’s for middle grade readers(10-11) and it is certainly not a book I would buy for myself.
I read it though.
It’s quite good, full of things guaranteed to make a young reader hang on with wide-eyed wonder. Heck, it made me finish it in short order. The story is told in first person, the point of view of Josh, the older of two brothers.
The Peshik family was looking for a home. They had always lived in an apartment in Tacoma, Washington and wanted a home for the two boys with wide open spaces. Dad worked at the local museum and couldn’t afford anything expensive.
When they came to look at the latest home, the realtor was apologetic. It was a huge house, certainly they could never afford it, but the realtor seemed to want to unload it. A wooden sign on the porch said it was called: TILTON HOUSE.
Tilton was the name of the man who’d built it and lived there for seventy-five years before his death. None of the neighbors knew him because he never left the house.
It was just the beginning of strange.
Every floor in the house was built on a three degree angle inward. Every wall in the house was filled with hand-scribbled words in phrases that made no sense, formulas, drawings. Everywhere.
The Peshiks finally agreed to buy it when the price had dropped twenty thousand dollars. The were the first prospective buyers to ever make it past the front door. The family moved in, Mom, Dad, Grandpa, and the two boys, Josh and Aaron. Mom wanted the walls painted, but Dad, a museum employee, wanted to photograph all of them first.
Strange as the house was, there were other things on North Holly Street less than usual. Across the street was The Talker, an old man who sat on his front porch staring at them, all the while mouthing nonsensical phrases. The Purple Door Man, so named for the color of his entrance, who constantly screamed at the kids for making noise on their bicycles, skate boards, playing with their balls, all of which started to mysteriously vanish out of the yard. The Duplex next door was owned by Mr. Daga and his family, who lived in the upper apartment and rented out the lower one to Mrs. Natalie. What’s unusual here is that Mr. Daga is an English speaking rat. Ludwig and Victor own the local funeral home. They seem to have a list of people who are going to die. Every time they visit a home to try to sell them a coffin, someone dies the next day. When they come to the Peshik home looking for young Aaron, Josh and their new friend Lola decide they have to do something.
The things Josh, Aaron, and Lola discover in the attic include an envelope of growing powder, a way to make the house turn invisible, the explanation for Mr. Daga and his family. When Francis Tilton’s diary turns up, they learn a lot about why things are the way they were.
And something more.
Mr. Tilton was an inventor. All the scribblings on the walls are all his secrets that he learned, or invented, during his seventy-five years in the home. They just need to be understood.
This was a first book by Tom Llewellyn and I can see a series where the boys and Lola figure out the writings and drawings on the wall, going through a lot of adventures. Several other things are hinted at during the tale here.
This old geezer had a lot of fun with this one and I have a great nephew who has just discovered the joys of reading after a couple of years of slackerdom where he failed one grade and almost another. He’s recently asked me if I had any books he could read and his grandmother, my sister, told me he recently passed up $5.00 for a pack of books as a reward for some accomplishment at school.
He will be getting this one.