There are many reasons why Maryland-based "Greenglass House" is one of my very favorite books.
(Join the Great DMV Bookclub each month as we read a book that is set in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia! We’ll reveal the book on the first Tuesday of the month on OCN and then review the book on the last Tuesday of the month. Join the discussion in the comments! It’s online, it’s free, and it’s fun!)
December’s Book: Greenglass House by Kate Milford
There are many reasons why Greenglass House is one of my very favorites, so let’s dive right into the discussion! For starters, the descriptions in the novel are so clear and vivid that I can almost feel the snow and ice swirling around the inn. I love that about middle-grade books. Most authors in this genre (and Milford, in particular) understand that young children really care about the little things. They want to know what the stained-glass windows are depicting and how each room in the inn is decorated. Milford fantastically maps out each room and each floor, making it easy to track where each character is at any given time. After all, if her readers are attempting to “Sherlock Holmes” the plot, they must be provided all important details to help them solve their case!
The main reason I adore this novel so much, though, is Milo. Milford has created quite the leading man. Milo isn’t the perfect precocious child that you often see solving crimes. He’s not a huge fan of large crowds and people invading his bubble. He’s adopted by a lovely couple and adores his parents, but still wants to learn about his birth family. He’s very particular about his space and what he fills it with. And he feels things a little more deeply than the average child. Yet, all of the things that make Milo different also make him the perfect person to solve the mystery. Also, everyone that knows him accepts him for who he is and doesn’t try to change him in any way.
A story that teaches kids that it’s okay to be different is utterly perfect in my opinion. The characters that surround Milo are also well-drawn and fit well into this weird little world of smuggling and thievery that Milford has created. Because of Milford’s eye for detail, again, I found myself picturing all the guests at the inn -- and even wanting to be friends with a few of them.
Greenglass House is a fabulous escapist book for the holiday season, or even year-round. Any reader who needs to get away from the craziness of the world and solve an intricate mystery can escape into the smugglers' inn at Nagspeake and find a whole cast of characters to visit with and befriend. That Milford created a sequel involving some of the same characters is just icing on the bookish cake!
Food for Thought
HERE ARE MY RESPONSES TO OUR BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS. I HOPE TO HEAR SOME INSIGHT FROM YOU, TOO!
1. After hearing the lodgers’ tales of pirating, is Nagspeake on your fantasy travel list? Also, are we thinking the author based this river on the Chesapeake?
Quite honestly, I was ready to travel to Nagspeake the second I saw the illustration of Greenglass House on the cover of the novel. It’s so gorgeous and reminds me a lot of Narnia, which honestly – who doesn’t want to travel to Narnia? I don’t know a lot about the pirates' tales on the Chesapeake, but I’m guessing that growing up in Annapolis, Milford most likely based her tale on an area very like the Chesapeake and embellished a bit for good measure.
2. In Milo and Meddy’s game, what three qualities would you give your character?
For starters, I’d give myself the all-seeing eye. Quite often, I miss the little things because I focus on the big picture. If I slowed down a bit, I could use my powers for good. Next, I’d give myself the Bookish-Catch-Up Ability. Seriously, if you’d see my stack of to-be-read, you’d understand. Give me a week with nothing to do, and I’d be totally caught up! And last, since it’s Christmas, I’d want the Perfect Present Picker-Outer Ability. I get super-excited about giving people presents, and I’m pretty good at it. But one can always be better!
3. If you were given a whole week off work to celebrate the holidays in a beautiful old inn with the people you loved, what three things would you be sure to do?
Milo seems to drink lots of hot cocoa and eat Christmas cookies. I must say that sounds pretty good to me, so I’d add that to the top of my list. Next, I’d find the perfect nook in which I could see the snow and still be warm and cozy by the Christmas tree and read to my heart’s content. And last, I’d cook with my dad all sorts of yummy food to share with everyone else in the inn.
4. Were you shocked by the big twist or has Harry Potter taught you to expect surprises like this?
I’m a big Harry Potter fan, so I wasn’t totally shocked by Meddy’s secret. I knew something was a little different about her, but it did take me a few hundred pages to realize exactly what her secret was. And oh boy, it was a good one!
Did you read Greenglass Housewith us in December? Roll call! Let us know in the comments! We want to get to know you!
As always, if you have a favorite DMV author or a great book that's set in the area, comment away, or send us an email! We're always looking to discover new and wonderful writers!