A student brought this back to the library the other day and told me she couldn't finish it because it was "too freaky" for her. Well, that piqued my curiosity and I had to know what was it about this book that freaked her out? Well, I've read the book and I have to admit, it is little creepy. The story begins with the kidnapping of Kyle Wilson, regular kid, aspiring artist. He is taken by a woman whom he later in the story refers to as 'the shepherd' and describes her hair as 'that funny, artificial red that I guess some women think is pretty.' That made me laugh! Anyway, this woman has the ability to shrink people to the size of dolls and she adds Kyle to her collection, replacing John, who made her angry. The shepherd calls her little people 'lambkins' and she just wants to love them - and for them to love her - forever. I don't know how far the student got in this story, if it was the shrinking people that freaked her out or the shepherd wanting to force her captives to love her. The part that creeps me out is the woman's idea of a loving relationship - keeping kids prisoner and trying to make them love her by giving them time to practice their talents, though the youngest one does appear to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. The kids' situation seems pretty hopeless, but they never give up and eventually escape their dollhouse prison.
3rd grade and up.
ETA: Just finished listening to the 2010 Newbery Medal winning When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I had several false starts with this book. It was a little slow starting so I'd get distracted by something else, but I finally stuck with it and it turned out to be a very good book. I think I would recommend reading it, though, rather than listening to it. I didn't care much for the reader's voice and I found myself wanting to turn back pages to see if I missed something. This is because the book has a time travel theme. So it's important to pay attention to the little details that don't seem important at first. Kids: you might want to ask you parents (or your grandparents) about the $20,000 Pyramid and who Dick Clark is. Also, there are several references to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time throughout the book so you might consider reading that first if you haven't read it already. I don't want to say too much more about it because I don't want to spoil the mystery. I'll just say, if you don't get into it right way, stick with it! It's worth it!
5th grade and up.