Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset

( 10 )

Overview

Tom Angleberger?s farcical middle-grade mystery begins when M?Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset (it has never been loosened before!), thereby setting off a chain of events in which all the strict rules of Smugwick Manor are abandoned. When, as a result of ?the Loosening,? the precious family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump (quite literally a lump), goes missing, the Luggertucks look for someone to blame. Is it Horton Halfpott, the good-natured but lowly kitchen boy who can?t tell a lie? Or one of the many colorful...

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Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset

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Overview

Tom Angleberger’s farcical middle-grade mystery begins when M’Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset (it has never been loosened before!), thereby setting off a chain of events in which all the strict rules of Smugwick Manor are abandoned. When, as a result of “the Loosening,” the precious family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump (quite literally a lump), goes missing, the Luggertucks look for someone to blame. Is it Horton Halfpott, the good-natured but lowly kitchen boy who can’t tell a lie? Or one of the many colorful cast members in this romp of a mystery that combines supreme silliness with a tale of a young hero with heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Angleberger's rambling title sets readers up for this oddly entertaining tale of a downtrodden, mistreated kitchen boy who, through a series of haphazard events, becomes an unlikely hero. Horton Halfpott is a hardworking but oft-beaten servant at Smugwick Manor, home to the wealthy Luggertucks, including the nasty and demanding M'Lady Luggertuck and her cruel son, Luther. Comically ruthless and greedy, these two antagonists make their multitude of servants outright miserable. When a family treasure goes missing, a bumbling detective is brought it to find the culprit. Readers will enjoy Angleberger's (The Strange Case of Origami Yoda) penchant for the absurd as well as his many droll asides: "Fear not, Reader, we will not dwell on these romantic inklings, not if you don't wish to," he writes after "the most beautiful girl had ever seen" smiles at him. "But it really was a nice smile." The ending satisfies, and with Angleberger's many eclectic characters, his wild-and-witty storytelling, and a lighthearted but perplexing mystery—involving a "lump" of diamonds, a couple of wigs, and a bust of Napoleon—readers are in for a treat. Ages 8–12. (May)
ALAN Review - Sarah Aronow
After M'Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset, unprecedented events and a desire to misbehave spread throughout Smugwick Manor. Horton Halfpott, one of the kitchen servants, however, is reluctant to disobey his superiors for fear of losing his job and his wages, which he hopes will one day pay for a doctor for his family. As precious items are stolen from the Luggertucks and preparations for an extravagant ball are being made, Horton must break the rules in order to help his friends, be with the girl he loves, and catch a truly loathsome thief. While the plot follows the traditional storyline of having a poor but noble hero win the heart of the most desired girl and foil treacherous schemes, Angleberger crafts his story with humor and unique characters in order to keep his audience entertained. Reviewer: Sarah Aronow
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Angleberger claims this tale of greed, theft, and corsets was inspired by Charles Dickens, although readers may equally suspect Roald Dahl. Downtrodden kitchen boy Horton Halfpott works for Smugwick Manor's ironfisted mistress, Lady Luggertuck. One morning she loosens her corset and the ensuing circulation causes her to sponsor a ball for her lovelorn nephew. The ball begins a chain of events leading to the theft of the Luggertuck Lump diamond, romance for Horton, and, best of all, "Shipless Piracy." While Horton's heart flutters for neighbor Celia, three enterprising stable boys mount surveillance on the manor to discover the thief. Much like Dickens or Dahl, an opinionated narrator with a strong sense of the ridiculous directs this story. His arch, mock-fanciful tone shows the absurd pretensions and underlying nastiness of Lady Luggertuck and her 16-year-old son. The narrator often uses contrasts to emphasize the differences between the mistress and her servants: "stately bedchambers" for her and "stiflingly hot attics" for them. The rich imagery adds humor and pathos to Horton's drudgery even as theft and piracy liven up the story. While not every mystery is solved (the stable boys' parentage remains a veiled secret), Horton's own reversal of fortune will provide readers the happy ending they expect. Pen-and-ink caricatures introduce each chapter and its characters. Well written, satirical, and satisfyingly silly.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
Kirkus Reviews

A positively gleeful historical mystery farce. Trouble really begins around Smugwick Manor, ancestral home of the Luggertucks and current resting place of the Luggertuck Lump (world's largest and ugliest diamond), when M'Lady Luggertuck instructs her lady's maid, Crotty, toloosen her corset a bit. What follows is a general loosening all around.Usually this wouldn't affect Horton Halfpott, lowliest of kitchenboys, since he doesn't like breaking rules (agood thing, since the business end of Miss Neversly's cooking spoon is known to impart lethal corrections, and he meets it often enough even when he doesn't break rules). When the newly loosened M'Lady plans a costume ball to make a match for her snooze-inducing nephew Montgomery to the comely and amazingly well-off Celia Sylvan-Smythe, events are set in motion that involve a missing Lump, Shipless Pirates, M'Lady's evil weasel of a son, Luther, and, of course, our hero Horton. Is he up for some derring-do? Angleberger's second (The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, 2010) is a satirical homage to Dickens by way of Pratchett and Snicket. Short chapters, a fast pace and plenty of linguistic and slapstistic humor will have young readers hoping that a sequel is planned. The scribbly pen-and-ink chapter-heading cartoon illustrations are just icing on the cake—or pickle éclair. A romp from start to finish. (Humor. 8-14)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781419701696
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 241,002
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Angleberger

Tom Angleberger is the bestselling author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, which won the 2010 E. B. White Read Aloud Award for middle readers, Darth Paper Strikes Back, and Horton Halfpott, which Kirkus dubbed “a romp from start to finish.” He lives in Christiansburg, Virginia, with his wife, author and illustrator Cece Bell.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 8, 2011

    Wonderful, wonderful read!

    The full title of the book is Horton Halfpott, or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor, or The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset. The cover glows in the dark. This, by the way, is only the fun that you get to have before opening the book. This story is a whole lot of fun. As the titles suggest, the story starts as M'Lady Luggertuck wears her corset a little less tight one day, setting off a strange feel in the air, which sets off all kinds of peculiar events. These culminate in the theft of the Luggertuck family treasure, and all manner of chaos and mayhem as the crime is investigated. Make no mistake, this is definitely kidlit. It's written at a great level for children. Were I to choose a primer for the later reading of Dickens, though, this would be it. If Charles Dickens himself wrote a piece of modern children's literature, I think it might look a lot like Horton Halfpott. Being a huge Dickens fan, by the way, I do not say this casually. Horton Halfpott himself could well be a Dickensian protagonist. He's a hard-working, loyal-to-a-fault kitchen boy in Smugwick Manor who gets caught up in the mystery and a plot to kidnap the young lady Celia, a young lady from nearby with whom he falls in love. The boy is every bit as lovable as Oliver Twist, which is saying quite a lot. The villains and various scoundrels around the story (the head of the kitchen, the Shipless Pirates, etc.) are a true joy to read. The story is a delight. Tom's Acknowledgments credit Charles Dickens with inspiring the story, and it really shows. The sympathy for the poor and downtrodden, contempt for the rich and stuck-up, and celebration of the wealthy and compassionate are so very enjoyable. The book doesn't take itself too seriously, though. Whenever the story turns to romantic thoughts, the narrator assures us that he won't dwell on such things too much. We are assured once that while Horton was dwelling, the narrator won't do so. When my wife and I are reading in the living room, we will frequently read a sentence or passage out loud because it's so well-written, so expressive, or otherwise worth sharing. I must have read a quarter of the book to my wife, and I felt like I was being too selective. In a way, I think I should have just read the book out loud to her. Having read all four of Tom Angleberger's novels (two of which are written under the pseudonym Sam Riddleburger) -- The Qwikpick Adventure Society by Sam Riddleburger, Stonewall Hinkleman and the Battle of Bull Run by Sam R. and Michael Hemphill, and The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom A. -- I feel like I need to comment on his writing style. In all cases, the narration is a lot of fun. But he has not used the same voice in any of them. The other three books have been in wonderful first-person narration, but by very different characters (Yoda having been by more than one character). Horton uses a wonderful third-person narration brilliantly executed in order to maintain the humor of the story. Coming in at 206 pages and with plenty of Tom's illustrations, it's a pretty quick read, and well worth the time. This is a feel-good book that carries on the Dickensian spirit without the work of getting through Dickens' language. Even so, Tom's use of wordcraft is every bit as enjoyable. A heartily-deserved five stars.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014

    Oh. My. Goodness.

    Best book ever! Thought i was going to die from laughing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2013

    AWSOME

    This is a perfect book for children who like funny mysteries

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2012

    Good Book

    It was pretty good. I had to read it for my 7th grade reading club and it was not as bad as i tought

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  • Posted July 4, 2011

    TERIFFIC

    I love this book so much. It is a mixture of love, crime and mystery.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 3, 2011

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    Posted November 17, 2011

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