A very unusual house...
Eddy and Eleanor Hall have always known that their family was a bit out of the ordinary. After all, they live in one of the most remarkable houses in all of Concord. But they never guessed just how extraordinary their house really is, or what tremendous secrets about their family's past it holds. That is, until they discover the magical attic room with its beautiful stained-glass window, abandoned toys, and two perfectly made-up, empty beds that seem to be waitingperhaps for two children just like themselves....
About the Author
Jane Langton studied astronomy at Wellesley College and the University of Michigan and did graduate work in art history at the University of Michigan and Radcliffe College. Ms. Langton is the author of a dozen books for young people, including seven other fantasies about the Hall family of Concord, Massachusetts: The Diamond in the Window, The Swing in the Summerhouse, The Astonishing Stereoscope, the Newbery Honor Book The Fledgling, The Fragile Flag, The Time Bike, and The Mysterious Circus. Also well known for her mystery novels for adults, Ms. Langton lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
Read an Excerpt
Edward Hall sat under the front porch of the big house on Walden Street in Concord, Massachusetts, and thought about his two ambitions in life. The first was to be the President of the United States. That was not very likely, but it was at least possible. The second was unlikely and impossible altogether, because he had been born into the wrong family. Why, oh, why wasn't his name "Robert Robinson" instead of "Edward Hall"?
Eddy took out of his pocket a collection of bottle caps, matchboxes and pennies and arranged them on the ground in a decorative pattern. If only fathers and mothers would be more careful when they chose names for their children! If only they would pick names that sounded well in Backwards English! "Edward Hall," for example, was all right in ordinary English, but it was terrible the other way around -- "Drawde Llah" -didn't sound like anything. But "Robert Robinson" -there was a name! If you turned it backwards and softened the "s," it was transformed into a name as strange and fantastic as that of an ambassador from some foreign land -- "Trebor Nosnibor"! Edward put his two ambitions in life together and whispered under his breath, "Introducing the President of the United States, Mr. Trebor Nosnibor!" How glorious! Edward sighed.
His older sister squeezed through the broken place in the lattice and squatted down beside him. Eleanor was taller and thinner than Edward, and she wore glasses because her eyes were weak. Her hair was red, like his, and it hung in a long pigtail down the middle of her back. Eleanor was very fond of a boy in her class named Benjamin Parks. She switchedher long pigtail over her shoulder and stared earnestly through the broken slats. "Someone's coming," she said, "and you know who it is? It's Mr. Preek! What do you suppose he wants with Aunt Lily?"
Mr. Preek was the -president of the bank and a selectman. With him was his secretary, Miss Prawn. These two sterling citizens of Concord had decided to take matters into their own hands. In their opinion this affair of the Halls had been allowed to slide along (in the most slipshod way) for far too many years. It was high time some responsible persons did something about it. They meant to, and here they were.
Their faces were grim. Mr. Preek wore a large grim vest. Miss Prawn was swathed about in a grim black cape, although it was a nice warm day in June. She poked her foot at a stove-in place in the porch floor and pursed up her lips.
Aunt Lily came to the door. Her face went white when she saw who her visitors were. "Come in," she said.
The visitors stayed exactly ten minutes. When they came out, Eleanor and Edward were still under the porch, listening through the hole in the floor.
"As soon as I possibly can," said Aunt Lily.
"Seven hundred and twelve dollars is a great deal of money in back taxes, Miss Hall," said Miss Prawn.
"This property would bring a great deal more if you sold it for the price of the land," said Mr. Preek.
"But our house is on it," said Aunt Lily.
"Tear it down and live somewhere else," said Mr. Preek. "Good day, Miss Hall."
Edward and Eleanor listened. They could hear the thump-thump of Mr. Preek's feet, going down the steps, and the crack-crack of Miss Prawn's. Aunt Lily shut the door so quietly it made no noise at all.
Mr. Preek stopped at the gate and looked back. Miss Prawn looked back, too, and shook her head. They were talking about the- house. Eleanor and Edward, hidden under the porch, listened with all their ears.
"A monstrosity, of course," Mr. Preek was saying. "Those dreadful towers, those turrets."
"And on such holy ground," said Miss Prawn, "the sacred soil of Concord, cradle of American liberty."
"Where the Minutemen fought the first battle of the American Revolution," said Mr. Preek, "on the nineteenth of April in 1775 at the Old North Bridge!"
"As the crow, flies," said Miss Prawn, flapping her black cloak and looking like a crow herself, "hardly a mile from this spot!"
"And do you realize, Miss Prawn," said Mr. Preek, "that this ghastly object is within full view of the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson?" He gazed sadly across the field at the stream of tourists going and coming from Emerson's square white house. "What must they think?" he said.
"And of course," said Miss Prawn, "it's scarcely a quarter of a mile from Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott, don't forget that!"
"How could I?" said Mr. Preek. "How could I forget the author of Little Women?"
"And let me remind you, too, Mr. Preek, that this house stands on the very street that leads to Walden Pond, Henry Thoreau's Walden Pond. Did I ever tell you?" said Miss Prawn. "My own dear grandfather put Henry Thoreau in jail!"
"No!" said Mr. Preek. "You never told me! What a glorious heritage!" His brow darkened and he shook his fist at the Hall's big house. "This blot, this stain must come down!"
"Those Halls haven't a leg to stand on, legally," said Miss Prawn.
Mr. Preek looked smug. "No, indeed," he said. "Within the year we'll have it for unpaid taxes, and then -- " (Eleanor and Edward, listening under the porch, stiffened. "Then what?" whispered Eddy fiercely.)
Mr. Preek was smiling nastily, He made a gesture like someone striking a match. He held out the hand with the invisible match in the direction of the house. Miss Prawn clapped her hands. "Out in the street they'll be, the four of them!" said Mr. Preek.
This was too much for Edward. He shot through the broken lattice and planted himself in front of Mr. Preek and Miss Prawn. "SUMATOPOPPIHI" cried Edward. (Mr. Preek was quite stout.)
"No, no!" shouted Eleanor, still under the porch on hands and knees....The Diamond in the Window. Copyright © by Jane Langton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A young adult novel, probably the first I read that hit me as a novel, one I read to my own kids when they were young. But be sure you get the version with Langton¿s own drawings in them¿before the Homer Kelly series.
"The Diamond in the Window" and its sequel, "The Swing in the Summerhouse," were among the most memorable books of my childhood. Jane Langton, who also wrote the Homer Kelly mysteries, weaves references to transcendentalism into just about all her writing. "The Diamond in the Window" sends siblings Eleanor and Eddie on a series of intriguing, dream-like adventures that take on an increasingly menacing tone as something clearly goes wrong. Compelling, exciting, different.
When I was a child, this was my favorite book for the longest time. This book blends mystery, fantasy, and interesting tidbits of (suprisingly) the transcedentalist thinkers, Thoreau and Emerson.As a children's book - it is an easy read. As a story, it is both charming and entertaining. If you have a young girl or boy to buy a "reading" type present for - I recommend this book!
I remember one of my teachers reading this book in class when I was in elementary school back in the '70s, and I was enthralled. I read it myself later in school, and then when I was in my 20s I decided I wanted to read it again. I went to the library to check it out, but the only copy in the system was in storage, and I had to do a special request! It is a book that all children should read. I am getting ready to order a copy so I can read it to my sons and pass on this wonderful book.
I read this book as a child in the early 70's and thought it strange and wonderful. I'm now in my 40's and recently looked for it again. It wasn't on the library shelf, but put away in storage! I had forgotten the story line, and thought some things were a bit unbelievable, but was once again caught up in the magic of the book. It also provokes children to investigate classic American writers ... Emerson, Thoreau, etc.
I first read this book when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I'm now 28 and have always been fond of this book. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has a great imagination, loves storytelling, and dreams in vivid color. Fascinating tale....
I first read this book when I was 10yrs old. Twelve years later in college, something a professor said in an English class reminded me of the story but I couldn't remember the title or the author for the life of me. All I could remember was the book had an orange cover with a house on it.I went back to my hometown, to the same library I had borrowed the book from as a child and literaly searched every shelf until I finally found it! I even think it was the very same one i had borrowed when I was ten. I now own my own, very worn copy and can't wait to share it with my son.
This is a majorly popular book at my house. My mother has read it, my father has read it, my sister has read it, and I have read it. A great book to lose yourself in. Get caught up in. A love for all ages, from those who just started reading to those who now need reading glasses! Anyone who dislikes this book just doesn't understand the way the Jane Langton twists the words and story into an unbelievable flow. A surprise from start to finish, this is number one in my book (ha ha ha). If I gave the book awards out, this would be the first one to recieve one. More recognition for this book would be cool too, like possibly making it into a movie. That would be awesome, with all the technology and special effects we have today. Diamond In The Window has surprises around every corner. And yes, I am babbling, but it is soo worth it to hear my babbling. DIAMOND IN THE WINDOW IS A WONDERFULLY WOVEN TALE WITH CHARACTERS YOU CAN RELATE TO!!!!!!!!!!!!! READ IT TODAY!!!!!!!!!
I got this book when I was very young and have read it too many times since then. It is one of my all-time favorites and I look forward to passing it on to my nieces, nephews and eventually to my children. I recommend this book to anyone who has even a hint of imagination. The trips I took while reading this book can never be duplicated.
THIS IS ONE OFTHE BEST BOOKS I EVER READ. IT REALLY IS GREAT I COULDNT PUT IT DOWN AND I'VE READ IT UNCOUNTABLE TIMES. DEFINETELY READ IT! P.S-If you like this read the Giver and Gathering Blue.
This is a great book! I picked it up one day and couldn't put it down. I read it, and then did a report on it. It was an A+ report. I really enjoyed it, and I have been reccomending it to all of my friends and cousins.