The Key to Rondo

( 11 )


There are four rules to the old, painted music box that Leo Langlander inherits from his great-aunt:

Wind the box three times only.

Never wind the box while the music plays.

Never move the box while the music plays.

Never close the lid...

See more details below
Paperback (Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)
$6.99 price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (22) from $1.99   
  • New (10) from $3.44   
  • Used (12) from $1.99   
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.
Sending request ...


There are four rules to the old, painted music box that Leo Langlander inherits from his great-aunt:

Wind the box three times only.

Never wind the box while the music plays.

Never move the box while the music plays.

Never close the lid till the music has stopped.

Leo wouldn't dream of breaking these rules – he wouldn't dream of doing anything wrong. Then his weird cousin Mimi comes to visit, and the first thing she does is wind the music box four times. But what Mimi intends as a prank unlocks a hidden world – and frees the sorceress inside it. Now Leo and Mimi must pair up to stop the witch – if only they can discover the true secret of the music box in time.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

At the start of Rodda's (the Deltora Quest series) proficient, old-fashioned fantasy, Leo's great-aunt Bethany has bequeathed him the Langlander family treasure: a music box with minutely painted details of a realm populated, as Leo discovers, by fairytale and nursery rhyme characters. Specific rules govern the music box, as all Bethany's relatives know, and dependable Leo plans to obey them strictly. But when his much-loathed cousin Mimi arrives for an extended stay, she seizes the first opportunity to break them. Suddenly figures on the box seem to have moved from their spots-and could it be that its butterflies now fly in Leo's room? Before long the children have summoned a sorceress, who lures them into Rondo by returning there with Mimi's dog in tow. This novel offers many elements characteristic of classic children's fantasy: an alternate world, a magical object that bridges worlds, two unsupervised child protagonists on a quest, tension about the protagonists' ability to get home again. Rodda's embellishments-the children find Langlander relatives in Rondo and discover that in Rondo their family history serves as fairytale-add some texture as well as originality. Ages 9-12. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Leo Kifkak inherits the family heirloom: a beautifully painted music box. Along with it, Leo also acquires the box's set of rules. He never questions the rules, but his visiting cousin Mimi decides to push the limits to see what will happen. One broken rule and a powerful witch comes out of the painting on the side of the music box. She tries to persuade Mimi and Leo to come back with her into her world, where she promises anything they want. When the witch doesn't succeed, she steals Mimi's dog, Mutt. On their quest to free Mutt, Mimi and Leo enter the world of Rondo. They encounter many different fairy-tale characters from familiar stories. The plot takes unexpected twists and turns while Leo and Mimi journey to the witch's castle and search for the key that will help them escape. On this expedition they don't know whom to trust, as people and objects are not always what they appear to be. Leo and Mimi's adventure is unpredictable and daring, but they learn valuable lessons about greed's harm, working together, and trusting each other. This book entertains the reader with creatively magical people, places, and events while also showing that great moral truths are universal. Age Range: Ages 12 to 15. REVIEWER: Ashleigh Larsen (Vol. 42, No. 1)
Leo is reliable, thoughtful, and pays attention. Having these qualities is probably why Great Aunt Bethany left him the Langlander music box with its very specific directions: Never wind the key more than three times and never close the lid or move the box while the music is playing. Great Aunt Bethany, however, did not count on Leo's stubborn and contrary cousin Mimi coming to visit. Sure enough, Mimi and her yappy little dog Mutt are not in the house an hour when all the rules are broken and the lovely but creepy Blue Queen appears from the music box. She steals Mutt, luring Leo and Mimi into the world of Rondo, which is painted on the sides of the music box. Her goal is to recover the Key that will allow her to travel in and out of Rondo. In this blend of familiar fairy tales and modern sensibilities, the children fit right in. Through their adventures and misadventures, Leo and Mimi meet a delightful and original set of characters such as a peevish duck, a guard pig with attitude, and a semi-retired hero in their quest to rescue Mutt. They have to rely on each other, and their characters develop beautifully as they learn to appreciate the differences between them. Rodda captures the essence of classic children's fantasy in her narrative's lively, adventurous plot and appealing characters. Rondo provides a delightful backdrop, combining familiar themes with fresh perspective. Rodda's accessible and lucid narrative stands out in the fantasy explosion of recent years. Reviewer: Donna Scanlon
Children's Literature - Laura Ruttig
Unusually enchanting, this fantasy novel takes its heroes into the heart of a strange music box world. A family heirloom handed down through generations is at the center of the mystery. Fussy Aunt Bethany always had very specific rules for handling this unique music box, such as "never pick up the box while the music is playing" and "we never close the lid until the music has stopped." Leo inherits the box from her, never suspecting the extraordinary reason for these restrictions. As a result, when troublesome cousin Mimi comes to visit, she ends up getting them both caught in a dangerous adventure in Rondo, the world of the music box. Castles, thieves, murder, and a whole lot of magic enliven this sparkling tale. The Blue Queen will stop at nothing to gain control of the key, and Mimi and Leo must rely on the questionable help of a pig, a hidey-hole, and a couple of local adventurers. Fun and entertaining, Rodda's debut novel is a pleasure to read. Reviewer: Laura Ruttig
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6- When Leo's annoying cousin, Mimi, and her dog arrive for an extended visit, she encourages him to break the rules that accompany the family music box left to him by Great Aunt Bethany. Overwinding the box opens the gate to Rondo, and the Blue Queen jumps into their world and kidnaps Mutt. Mimi insists on rescuing him and follows her back into the fairy-tale world of the music box, and Leo is dragged along as he attempts to stop his cousin. The two children travel over the sides of the box from the town market scene, to the Flitter wood full of pixielike creatures guiding them, to the Dark Forest, and finally to the palace of the Queen. Along the way traditional characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales appear to help or hinder their progress, from Old MacDonald to Grandma, who was once tricked by the wolf. The ground is infested with "dots," gingerbread men who are kept away by a sly fox and a brave pig (who went to work after her house was blown down). While the characters and writing are neither complex nor literary, children will get a thrill from identifying the familiar tales referenced. The rollicking, action-packed plot moves along quickly and twists keep readers guessing. Not quite as well crafted as Cornelia Funke's Inkheart (Scholastic, 2003), this story will likely appeal to a less-experienced, less-sophisticated audience.-Kelly Vikstrom, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD

Kirkus Reviews
Rodda liberally sprinkles nursery-rhyme references and fairy-tale motifs among her own fresh details to create a splendidly vivid world. Leo and his "least-favorite second cousin" Mimi have seen each other annually at Great-Aunt Bethany's prim afternoon teas. When Great-Aunt Bethany dies and leaves Leo a finely painted music box, he plans to obey its strict rules-"Turn the key three times only," etc.-but Mimi comes to visit and immediately the music box is overwound. The tiny, delicately bold paintings on its sides come to life, springing into Leo's bedroom. An evil queen snatches Mimi's dog back into the music-box world, and Leo and Mimi are off in pursuit. Despite clashing temperaments, the two stick together through their frightening and colorful travels, while adults seem to constantly flip-flop in trustworthiness. Many references are inexplicit and connections left until the satisfying end; Rodda trusts her readers and gives them sweetness and real emotion with zero sentimentality. A perfect companion to Lyn Gardner's Into the Woods (2007). (Fantasy. 9-12)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545035361
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 574,744
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Emily Rodda is the author of the hugely successful Deltora Quest series, with over two million copies in print. Winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year (Younger Readers) Award a record five times, she seems to know instinctively what children want to read. She currently lives in Sydney, Australia.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 10, 2009

    Excellent fantasy story with a lesson on consequences.

    Set in a fantasy setting, the children learn a lesson of consequences for their actions when faces with challenges. Excellent read that absorbs you into the book. If fantasy is your vice, it is an easy flowing story that you'll immediatley want to read the sequel. By the way the sequel isn't out in the US yet. I can't wait....

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2008


    this book was excellent! i thought everything was great. emily rodda's deltora series is one of my favorites, but after her last book i thought that was the last one she would write. but i was wrong! this book is filled with twists and turns and i love it! but the other books that will come out will answer some questions like, who made the music box, why was it made, and do leo and mimi stay friends? hopefully all these questions will be answered in the books to come! but untill then enjoy The Key to Rondo!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    The Key to Rondo was a great book, even thogh it left me with some questions... i would like to know who made the music box, how they made it, and why they made it. I would also like to know what happens after they get home.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Joan Stradling for

    When Leo Zifkak inherits an ancient music box from his aunt Bethany, he's determined to follow the three rules. He won't wind the box more than three times, he won't shut the box when the music is playing, and he won't move the box before the music stops.

    Leo isn't a rule breaker, but the same can't be said for his cousin, Mimi. She winds the box four times! This unlocks a hidden world and releases a sorceress who kidnaps Mimi's dog. Though he's angry with her, Leo must team up with Mimi and stop the witch from carrying out her evil plan.

    They travel to Rondo to save Mimi's dog and meet strange characters along the way. They aren't sure who they can trust or if they can trust anyone but themselves. Their only hope is to discover THE KEY TO RONDO and unlock their way home.

    Rodda does an amazing job of bringing Rondo to life. I loved the world and the characters, and am looking forward to reading more in THE WIZARD OF RONDO.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 12, 2010

    Good Book!

    It was a good book! I loved how the author used detail, and you could just picture everything in your mind. The story line was great, and the writing was great too!!!!! I would highly recommend it!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good book!

    This was a very good book in all. Yet it was not my favoraite book. It is like every fairy tale you know combined into a great story. What I love about it is that it is original, witty and fun. I had a great time reading this book, it felt like I was actually in it. I could really see the charectors and their personalitys. I love how they bring those fairy tales and put them all togethor into a story line that fits! I liked this book a lto and I hope that other people will too.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    the key to rondo is an awesome and amazing world similar to the likes of "Narnia" and other involving stories of that series.

    this book is an adventure like no other!with the characters, you can both relate and marvel at their actions and their discoveries. being as avid a reader as i am, i found that this book was excellent in its storyline, plot, and detail! i would recommend this book to any and all readers.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)