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The King in the Window by Adam Gopnik

The King in the Window (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Adam Gopnik, Omar Rayyan (Illustrator)

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277840,824 (3.66)10
Title:The King in the Window
Authors:Adam Gopnik
Other authors:Omar Rayyan (Illustrator)
Info:Miramax (2006), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

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The King in the Window by Adam Gopnik (2005)



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This is a book about a war in Paris between the Windows and the Mirrors and an average boy who is selected as the king of the Window Wraiths. The story shows real character development in the boy, which is interesting and has some higher principles of ethics and physics were engaging. I read this with my son. It was a very slow start, but we persevered and it paid off. There are some good messages in this book, but it is not preachy. The book shows that they boy can learn to think critically and solve problems. I also like the setting and the freedom that the parents give their son.
( )
  jlapac | Aug 14, 2013 |
This was alright. The story was kind of interesting. It kept me just intrigued enough to keep reading. Honestly, the second half of the book was better than the first, there was more action. Id say its good enough for a one time read. ( )
  DeathsMistress | Nov 29, 2012 |
I think I'd describe this as mindboggling AND superb. I found Adam Gopnik's The King in the Window a fascinating read.

The book starts out normally enough- a young boy, Oliver, and his family, living in Paris. However, when he puts on a crown that came courtesy of a cake from a bakery, he sees a reflection in the window that looks like him...but isn't him. And so begins a insane and thrilling and quirky journey.

I read this a while ago but from what I recall, Gopnik blends fantasy and adventure and technology and so much more, into a wonderful book. There are so many elements going on in this book, and I really loved how Gopnik invokes characters from classic stories (not going to spoiler-ify this though, so I'll keep mum) into his plot. There is a alternate universe(-ish) reminiscent of China Mieville's Un Lun Dun, and the concepts that Gopnik introduced made me really think. It's definitely a journey of self-discovery for Oliver- oh, and along the way, he saves the world!

Overall, an good, imaginative book. ( )
  thebookcrazy | Feb 6, 2010 |
first line: "If Oliver had simply smiled and joked with his parents while he was wearing the gold paper crown, or if he had just remembered to take it off after dinner, as he had always done before, the window wraiths might never have mistaken him for royalty."

I liked this but didn't love it. The story is whimsical and entertaining, like Carroll's Wonderland books, which feature prominently in Gopnik's novel. Unfortunately, I think the world of The King in the Window would actually have been much stronger if it weren't so closely intertwined with Carroll's creation as to seem dependent upon it. ( )
  extrajoker | Jul 4, 2009 |
The King in the Window is about a boy named Oliver who lives in France with his parents and is suddenly hailed as king by the window wraiths. They need him to defeat their enemy, the One with None, who lives in mirrors and steals people's souls as they gaze at themselves. The war between windows and mirrors has been going on for centuries, and Oliver must enter the Way (the world behind mirrors) to confront his enemies. He gets help from his landlord's daughter Neige, his friend Charlie Gronek, and Mrs. Pearson, who just happens to be the granddaughter of the Alice who visited Wonderland through the looking-glass. Paris' clochards (who are really men who have sworn off mirrors entirely, in order to keep their souls pure) and the window wraiths also join in the fight. But it isn't all done with swords and bubble wands — Oliver must think, harder than he ever has before, if he wants to defeat his enemy. And he will need all the clear thoughts he can get, because the One with None is planning a new method of stealing people's souls. He will use computer screens, as soon as he can unveil his latest invention to an applauding and unsuspecting world.

Mixed up in all this is Nostradamus. Alice in Wonderland, quantum computers, soul-stealers, French philosophers and poets like Moliére and Racine, champagne, and Oliver's father whose soul has been stolen by the One with None, the Master of Mirrors. It sounds as if it would be a heady brew, but to me it felt as if these disparate elements were thrown together randomly wherever the author thought they would sound clever.

The premise is interesting and the writing tolerable, but somehow it failed to grab me. It moved slowly and was rather predictable. Oliver was slightly annoying at times and his friend Charlie much more so. I really only finished the book because I started it. I can't really recommend it very highly. ( )
  wisewoman | Jul 1, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Adam Gopnikprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rayyan, OmarIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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If Oliver had simply smiled and joked with his parents while he was wearing the gold paper crown, or if he had just remembered to take it off after dinner, as he had always done before, the window wraiths might never have mistaken him for royalty.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 078681862X, Hardcover)

Award-winning adult author Adam Gopnik's first children's book, an adventure set in modern day Paris starring an American boy who finds himself at the center of a war between window and mirror spirits, is an mixed bag of fantasy, technology and history that doesn't quite hang together as a whole. One January evening, eleven-year-old Oliver receives a vision in his bedroom window of a young boy in 17th century dress. This apparition informs him that he is the new King in the Window, a hero elected by kind window wraiths to assist them in their centuries-long war with the soul-stealing evil mirror spirits. Soon, Oliver finds himself in The Way, or the parallel universe on the other side of mirrors. Here, he engages in battle with the diabolical Master of Mirrors, chats with Nostradamus, and helps rescue an elderly Alice in Wonderland. In addition, there is a subplot concerning a super computer atop the Eiffel Tower! , an examination of 17th century French court life, and an on-going discussion of quantum physics. Whew! Gopnik's promising premise quickly sinks under the weight of top-heavy symbolism, arcane literary references, and a seemingly endless supply of quirky characters. As a result, the narrative loses its thread, and ultimately, it's target middle grade audience, who will be unable to tie together the divergent strands of this convoluted tale. In sum, less would have been much more. --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:03 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Eleven-year-old Oliver, an American boy residing in Paris, discovers, much to his astonishment, that phantoms live within the windowpanes and have selected Oliver to lead a war against the "soul-stealers" that inhabit mirrors.

(summary from another edition)

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