The Key to Rondo

The Key to Rondo

4.7 11
by Emily Rodda
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

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.)

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KLIATT - KLIATT Review
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)
VOYA
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)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781921415548
Publisher:
Bolinda Publishing Pty, Limited
Publication date:
08/01/2009
Series:
Rondo Series, #1
Edition description:
Unabridged

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