My friend Alex emailed me yesterday, and she reminded me about Jane Langton's children's books. These were books that I loved as a kid, and had for some reason forgotten to add to my lists as an adult. The books are set in Concord, MA (near where I grew up), and they offer a nice mix of ordinary children solving mysteries, and mysterious and magical events.
The first book in the series, the Diamond in the Window, is the one that I remember best. It's about two children who discover a mysterious bedroom hidden away in their house, with the two empty beds of their aunt and uncle, who disappeared many years before as children. The modern-day children have to solve the mystery of what happened to the long-ago children, and bring them back if they can, by unraveling a series of clues. I know that I re-read this book in college and found that it held up well.
The family's adventures continue through a series of other books. I intend to go back to re-read them now (though I have to admit that there are a lot of other books on my list, too). Here's the complete list, in order:
- The Diamond in the Window
- The Swing in the Summerhouse
- The Astonishing Stereoscope
- The Fledgling
- The Fragile Flag
- The Time Bike
- The Mysterious Circus
The last two are much newer than the others, and I haven't read them at all. These books are targeted towards the 9 to 12 age range, but they do offer plenty of food for adult thought, too (references to transcendentalism, for example). Jane Langton also writes a well-regarded mystery series for adults, the Homer Kelly series, also set in Concord. If you have time to check these books out, I hope that you'll let me know what you think! -- Jen
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.