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The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

The Sixty-Eight Rooms

by Marianne Malone

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sixty-Eight Rooms (1)

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Ruthie, sixth grader at a private school in Chicago, feels like her life is utterly boring. She longs to be one of those people to whom something special happens. When her best friend Jack finds a strange key on their visit to the Thorne Rooms at the Chicago Art Institute, Ruthie gets her wish. She gains the ability to shrink and explore the sixty-eight fantastically detailed miniature rooms, but finds more than she bargains for inside.

This book was a fun, quick read (probably I say that often, but most middle grade doesn't take long to get through). Ruthie was a very relatable character (despite my being about 16 years older than her) - she yearns for adventure and upon seeing the miniature rooms the first time, desperately wishes she could explore them. Not only was young Millie likely to feel the same way at her age, had I visited the Thorne Rooms, but as an adult I would still want to explore the tiny rooms! I would absolutely jump at the chance for some sort of magical adventure. Jack and Ruthie exploring the museum after hours reminded me of a book I read (and loved) in middle school, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and gave me a wonderful sense of nostalgia. Malone did an excellent job of describing the rooms and their different time periods, and I really did feel like I was part of the story.

My one real critique would be that I felt there was nothing really at stake. I thought their adventure might involve the pair taking more risks or facing real danger, and I was a little let down. But I still enjoyed the book and I will be purchasing the next three in the series!

Also the cover design is fabulous, as well as the decorative font selection and the key elements throughout the book. There are a handful of full page illustrations and those were alright - nothing mind-blowing, so I could take them or leave them. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Mar 13, 2016 |
This was a fun audio. While the book was not showered with glowing reviews, I really enjoyed the story, especially as it is great fantasy for 3-5 grades, which can be a hard age for good literature. Kids LOVE the Magic Treehouse books, and this is a perfect next step, blending mysterious magic and time travel (Magic Treehouse) with the special appeal of miniaturization (The Borrowers), and the secrets of a museum (From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler). Even better: the miniatures and museum in question are real: the setting is the Thorne Rooms of the Art Institute of Chicago (http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/thorne).

One criticism of the book is that the main characters -- 6th grade best friends Jack and Ruthie -- do not act their age. While this may be true, that's part of what makes the book so appropriate for, say, 3rd graders. It also adds something of an old-fashioned vibe to the book. Jack and Ruthie discover a magic key that allows them to shrink down to miniature size so that they can go in the Thorne Rooms. The two friends contrive to spend the night in the museum, exploring the rooms, and examining the artifacts inside. They discover that the windows and doors -- and the realistically painted scenes outside -- are actually real, so they are able to visit French Revolution-era Paris and Salem Witch Trials-era Massachusetts. They also discover that they are not the first magically miniaturized visitors to the Thorne Rooms, and that previous visitors may have left behind important treasures. A fun, light read for younger readers that also explores historical time periods -- again, a next step for Magic Treehouse lovers.
  AMQS | Apr 3, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this fantasy, especially the mostly uninterrupted "exploration" aspect of it. This is a great book for anyone who ever wanted to live in a dollhouse! I'd never heard of the Thorne Rooms before and now I'll be sure to look them up if I'm ever in Chicago. ( )
  desislc | Dec 25, 2013 |
Uninspired fantasy about a magic key that shrinks a girl down so she can fit into dollhouse rooms. There are authors who could have made a great book out of that premise, but this one didn't. The kids seemed very young for their ages, and the writing style made me feel like I was being talked down to. I always hate that -- as though the text had to be dumbed down in order for me to understand it. I've read my obligatory 50 pages and I don't plan to read any more. ( )
  Inky_Fingers | Sep 29, 2013 |
This book was a huge disappointment. I thought the writing was dull and the plot clunky and over-focused on mundane details (a good author knows to just show the interesting and/or relevant details of their character's lives, not go through every day step-by-step). Despite so many different side plots, the pacing was incredibly slow. I mostly kept reading so that I could find out how the magic of the key and the miniature rooms worked, and unless I missed something huge, there wasn't a satisfactory answer at all. ( )
  Crowinator | Sep 23, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
This is a solid story, though it lacks the cachet that would make it stand out from other similar books. The descriptions of the rooms are faithful to the actual rooms in the museum.
added by foggidawn | editSchool Library Journal, Misti Tidman

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marianne Maloneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Campbell, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original title
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Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To Jonathan --
for everything,
To Maya, Noni, and Henry --
for the bedtime stories.
First words
Getting up in the morning was always a challenge for Ruthie.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375857109, Hardcover)

Almost everybody who has grown up in Chicago knows about the Thorne Rooms. Housed in the Children’s Galleries of the Chicago Art Institute, they are a collection of 68 exquisitely crafted miniature rooms made in the 1930s by Mrs. James Ward Thorne. Each of the 68 rooms is designed in the style of a different historic period, and every detail is perfect, from the knobs on the doors to the candles in the candlesticks. Some might even say, the rooms are magic.

Imagine—what if you discovered a key that allowed you to shrink so that you were small enough to sneak inside and explore the rooms’ secrets? What if you discovered that others had done so before you? And that someone had left something important behind?

Fans of Chasing Vermeer, The Doll People, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler will be swept up in the magic of this exciting art adventure!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:35 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Ruthie thinks nothing exciting will ever happen to her until her sixth-grade class visits the Art Institute of Chicago, where she and her best friend Jack discover a magic key that shrinks them to the size of gerbils and allows them to explore the Thorne Rooms--the collection of sixty-eight miniature rooms from various time periods and places--and discover their secrets.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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