100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson
Recommended Ages 10 to 14
The story 100 Cupboards is the amazing fantasy adventure of Henry York and his family. When his travel writer parents are kidnapped, his Aunt Dottie and Uncle Frank from Henry, Kansas send for him. It is summer and life is very different from his Boston boarding school . His Aunt and Uncle and three cousins Penny, Henrietta and Anastasia are kind, silly and somewhat argumentative, but wonderful. There are barbecues to attend and baseball to play. He was never allowed to do any of the things he does now.
The house is old and strangely one room cannot be opened since their grandfather died two years ago. Henry’s room is in the attic and though it is nothing fancy, he feels quite at home. One evening while he is sleeping, he wakes up to find one of the walls cracking and plaster everywhere. As time goes by he and Henrietta keep working on the wall and expose 99 cupboards. Strange letters come through a post box one, wonderful sights and smells come through another, a black one makes Henry physically sick and one holds a key. Henry begins to have vivid dreams about places that seem like his past though he doesn’t remember for sure. He and Henrietta want to try to explore the cupboards, but how do they get there? After Henrietta and Henry get injured by a witch, Henry to decides that they need to stop exploring. Henrietta is determined to keep going without Henry which lead to all kinds of problems for the whole family!
This book is a bit slow in the beginning filled with exposition. As you read on or listen on as I did, you realize that it is very necessary. Once I got into the book, I was hooked. The excellent actor-narrator Russell Horton had me right there with Henry wondering what secrets the cupboards held and why his parents kept him so secluded before he came from Boston? This would be a great read aloud in a classroom. There are few scary parts that may be better on a car ride over reading at bedtime for the younger set, but middle schoolers will happily delve into the adventure. Fans of Harry Potter, The Lightning Thief and adventure fantasy will relish this tale that is the first book in a trilogy.