I was really hesitant to read this when I heard about it, because I am wary of books about children that claim to be for grown-ups. Not that that's a recipe for failure, by any means, but it made me set it aside, mentally, until it popped up again in my life in the form of my friend Annamarie.
Annamarie is not a BIG reader. She loves books about horses, and fairy tales where everything comes out okay in the end. I have recommended a lot to her; she had never returned the favor--until The Book of Lost Things. Which she insisted emphatically that I read. And dragged me to a bookstore, and bought it for me, and put it in my hands, and sat me down, and forced me to read the beginning so that I would be hooked and read it right away.
Which I did, nearly in one sitting. And oh my. What an excellent recommendation.
This is the story of David, a 12-year-old boy who's just lost his mother. When his father remarries and has another son, David retreats into his books and fairy tales, but gets much more drawn in than he expected.
And, oh, the references and rewritings. With many stories twisted into new shapes (including a Beauty and the Beast where the Beast is the woman--and the Beauty does not free her from her spell--and a Sleeping Beauty where the sleeper awakens every night and is more of a danger to the princes than any thorns ever were), David explores a new land where the greatest danger will be the ones he calls from his own imagination.
Try to figure out who the villain is (from fairy tale tradition) before the reveal at the end. (Yeah, I totally did.)
This is still one of my favorite books.
I do recommend the paperback edition with the red cover, as there's a section of notes at the back of the book, with Connelly's thoughts on the fairy tales he used, as well as original versions of the tales.