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The King in the Windowby Adam Gopnik
Synopses & Reviews
Oliver Parker, a twelve-year-old American boy living in Paris, is lonelier than he has ever been. Intimidated by his French school and its prickly teachers, and made melancholy by the long, gray winter, Oliver longs for some friends, and maybe even a little adventure.
One dark and freezing January night, his wishes are granted. After dinner, Oliver puts on the gold paper crown that came with his Epiphany cake. He looks at himself in the window and instead of his own reflection, he sees an amazing vision — a boy hovering in front of him, dressed in an ancient French doublet. Clues left behind by this ghostly boy lead Oliver to the Palace of Versailles, where he is swept into the French court of the Window Wraiths, spirits who inhabit glass and water, and who have claimed Oliver as their ultimate ruler: The King in the Window.
Full of suspense and adventure, Adam Gopnik's novel is an unforgettable fantasy for readers of all ages.
"Gopnik's (Paris to the Moon, for adults) first offering for young readers is ambitious, complex and overly long. Oliver Parker, 11, an American boy in Paris, is vaguely unhappy. His father, a correspondent for a New York newspaper, is preoccupied; his French schoolmasters exacting, and his closest friend, Neige, sullen. His boredom ends instantly when, wearing the gold-paper crown he won on Epiphany for finding the prize inside a cake, he is mistaken for the monarch of the title, whose destiny is to free the 'wraiths' of Versailles. These spirits, French luminaries including Molire, Racine and the inventor of mayonnaise, have been trapped in the palace's windows for centuries by the evil 'Master of the Mirrors.' So while Oliver's father is consumed with reporting a story about a computer project soon to be unveiled at the Eiffel Tower, Oliver is engaged in a battle of epic proportions that climaxes at the same tower in the moments before the project's launch. The plot incorporates threads about quantum physics, Alice in Wonderland, skateboarding and 17th-century France's obsession with plate glass. There's wit (e.g., Oliver finds French history confusing since all the kings are named Louis and the only way to tell them apart is by 'the style of furniture they liked'), but a lot of it is aimed at adults, as are references to Yoko Ono's singing, wine expert Robert Parker, book royalties, etc. The resolution, though well-orchestrated, is dizzyingly complicated. Think of this as Harry Potter for the Mensa set. Ages 10-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Even as readers ponder the value of looking out windows rather than at themselves in mirrors and computer screens, they'll discover an entertaining, intricately plotted adventure story whose pages just keep turning." Library Journal
"The book's strengths are its engaging characters and its lovingly and specifically evoked setting." School Library Journal
During dinner with his parents, Oliver feels silly wearing the paper crown of an Epiphany-festival French king. That night, looking in the mirror, he sees a boy in an ancient French doublet who says Oliver has a special mission--rescuing souls.
About the Author
Adam Gopnik has written for The New Yorker since 1986. His previous books include Paris to the Moon, a New York Times best seller, and Americans in Paris, a literary anthology. He lives in New York with his wife and their two children.
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