The second title in Tanner's Keepers Trilogy delivers a fantasy as thickly plotted as but less successful than Museum of Thieves (2010).
When Goldie and Toadspit witness the kidnapping of Toadspit's sister Bonnie, the two stow away in pursuit on a boat bound for the city of Spoke. When Toadspit is likewise captured, it's up to Goldie to find the siblings and bring them safely back to the city of Jewel. At times aided by two street urchins, Pounce and mute Mouse (whose dozen white mice play supporting roles), and accompanied by a mysterious cat and the Museum's slaughterbird, Morg, Goldie tracks elusive villains during Spoke's Festival of Lies. Everything's back to front and upside down, and masked people talk in opposites. When Goldie captures one of the Big Lies—a maelstrom-like force in which one's spoken question is enacted like a wild dream—she connects with her mythical warrior alter-ego, Princess Frisia. By leveraging the Museum's power and through their own wits, the children thwart their captors. Goldie vows to fight anew for Jewel, where a war fomented by the duplicitous Fugleman is about to begin. The chapters depicting powerful activity in the Big Lie and at the Museum aren't fully integrated into the main plot—and the clunky Festival of Lies can't hold a candle to the alluring tumult of the magical Museum.
Muddy, if often riveting. (Fantasy. 9-12)
Children's Literature - Judy DaPolito
Even though Goldie Roth wants nothing more than to accept the offer to become Fifth Keeper of the Museum of Dunt, she decides to turn it down to avoid hurting her parents. But her resolution dissolves when her friend Toadspit's ten-year-old sister Bonnie is kidnapped. Goldie and Toadspit hide on the boat that is taking Bonnie away, but Toadspit comes out of hiding to protect his sister from Cord and Smudge, the kidnappers. When they dock in the city of Spoke on the third night of the voyage, Goldie follows them to a bread shop, where the two thugs leave her friends. Hoping to free them later the next day, and half-starved herself, she disguises herself as a boy and searches for food. During her search, she discovers that the annual Festival of Lies is about to begin. Everyone will be masked, andunless they are touching an animaleveryone must say the reverse of what they actually mean. And people are throwing food to the hungry in hopes of escaping the notice of the bad-tempered gods during the next year. Goldie grabs a leg of roast mutton, but once her hunger is appeased she shares it with a marching band of prisoners and a cat that followed her from the boat. Because she and Toadspit were trained at the Museum of Dunt, Goldie is an expert liar and lockpick. She also learned to sing the first song and to use the Imitation of Nothingness to cause people not to notice her. She uses these skills to get into the bread shop, but her friends are gone. When she finally locates them, she tricks the band into creating a diversion and, with the help of the cat and a slaughterbird from the Museum, frees Toadspit and Bonnie. Betrayed by another boy, the three children are recaptured but free themselves by using another feature of the Festival, the Big Liea floating dream that, when the right question is asked, allows the desired scene to play out. Goldie and her friends are appealing characters, the story itself is compelling and often funny, and the background action in their home city adds depth and clarity. Ciaffaglione's drawings are both arresting and amusing. The book is the second in the "Keepers" series.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—In this fast-paced and lively sequel to Museum of Thieves (Delacorte, 2010), Goldie Roth struggles to accept her destiny as Keeper of the Museum of Dunt even as she becomes embroiled in another adventure. Mysterious villains snatch her friends Toadspit and Bonnie, shipping them to Spoke. Goldie follows their trail and faces the labyrinthine challenges of the city's annual Festival of Lies. The festival demands citizens speak only untruths, with a lucky few winning a "Big Lie," a prize that allows magic to make the falsehood true. Searching for the criminal who kidnapped her friends, she meets some new comrades, including a mute boy whose pet mice tell frighteningly accurate fortunes and a large cat with uncanny instincts. When Goldie locates her friends, she must try to tap into a big, time-traveling lie to save them from a sticky situation. The "Big Lie" transforms the characters into legends from the past and explains Goldie's unique abilities. The novel ends with Goldie and company heading off to face the evil Fugleman once again. Goldie's puzzle solving, the prescient mice and enormous cat, and the tricky dialogue will appeal to children who like memorable characters and a twisting and untwisting plot. Libraries that own the first book will want to purchase this installment.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
Read an Excerpt
A Message from the Museum
The scream woke Goldie Roth from a deep sleep. She sat bolt upright, thinking for a moment that she was back in the terrible events of six months ago, with the city of Jewel on the brink of invasion and her friend Toadspit about to be murdered in front of her eyes.
Then she heard Ma’s quiet voice in the next room, and she knew that Pa had had another nightmare. She slipped out of bed, threw a dressing gown over her shoulders and hurried into her parents’ room. “Pa?” she said. “Are you all right?”
Pa smiled weakly up at her from a knot of bedclothes. “Sorry to wake you, sweeting,” he mumbled.
“Your father had a bad dream,” said Ma. “But it’s gone now.” And she too smiled, though her knuckles were white and her fingers trembled.
It pierced Goldie to the heart to see them trying to pretend that nothing was wrong. She unknotted the bedclothes and tucked them around Pa’s shoulders, wishing there were something more she could do.
“Were you dreaming about the House of Repentance again?” she said.
Pa flinched. He and Ma glanced at each other, and a world of pain and sorrow passed between them.
It was a little more than ten months since the two of them had been thrown into the dungeons of the House of Repentance. They had never told Goldie what had happened to them there, but she could see the scars that were left behind.
Pa had dreadful nightmares. Ma had a cough that sounded as if it would tear her lungs out. They were both too thin, and even now, long after their release, they had an exhausted look about them, as if something was gnawing at them from the inside.
Goldie wished that they would talk to her about it. But they never did. Instead, they sighed and changed the subject.
“Aa message came for you today, sweeting,” said Pa, struggling to sit up. “Where did I put it? It was from the Museum of Dunt.”
This time it was Goldie who flinched, although she hid it so well that her father didn’t notice. Memories flooded through her. Toadspithis whole body plastered in mudturned toward her and laughed. A warm canine tongue swept across her face, and a deep voice rumbled, “You are as brave as a brizzlehound”
With an effort, she dragged herself back to the present. Pa was fumbling for a scrap of paper that lay on the table beside the bed. “Here it is.” His forehead creased. “It’s from Herro Dan and Olga Ciavolga. It seems that they want you to be the museum’s Fifth Keeper!”
Fifth Keeper of the Museum of Dunt . . . The familiar longing welled up inside Goldie so suddenly and so strongly that she could hardly breathe.
She said nothing, but Pa must have seen some echo of it on her face. “Do youdo you want to be Fifth Keeper, sweeting? Because”
“Because if you do,” interrupted Ma, “we wouldn’t stop you.”
“We wouldn’t dream of stopping you!”
“It’s just that it’s such a big responsibility,” said Pa. “We’re worried that it might be too much for you.”
“And” Ma gripped Goldie’s hand. “And you’d have to be away from home such a lot.” She began to cough.
Goldie patted her gently on the back and tried not to think about the Museum of Dunt, and how muchhow very muchshe wanted to be Fifth Keeper.
“Of course,” said Pa, chewing his lip, “it’s possible that Herro Dan and Olga Ciavolga really need your help. If they do”
“If they need you, then you mustn’t hesitate,” said Ma. She tried to let go of Goldie’s hand but didn’t quite manage. “Your father and I talked about this earlier.”
“We did,” said Pa. “And we both agreed. If they need you, you must go!”
Goldie could hardly bear it. They were doing their best to be fair, but she could see how much they hated the thought of her being away from home for even a little while.
And so she forced every scrap of longing out of her voice and said, “They don’t really need me. They’ve got Sinew and Toadspit to help them.”
Pa frowned, wanting to believe her. “Are you sure?”
“You’re not staying home because of us, are you?” said Ma, still clutching her hand. “You mustn’t do that. We want you to be happy.”
A warm canine tongue swept across her face
Goldie smiled. “I am happy,” she said. And because she was a trained liar, she sounded as if she meant it.