I highly recommend Woodsbound by Miriam Khan as 3 out of 4 stars. The writing is sound, the editing is solid, the dialog is believable, and the plotline is excellent. I found it a little too predictable a little over half way through and my attention ebbed for a bit, but then the action picks up, the mystery becomes more mysterious and then the clues start making a solid picture, and the book ends strong. I would happily add this book to any middle-school classroom library.
The large concept of the book is the connection between this teenage girl, Lara, and a similar girl from the past. This is not a unique idea, but it is placed in a modern context of the girls being sent away for the summer by her stepmom, making friends with a neighborhood girl, a crush on that girl’s brother, and another cute boy. Add in the cranky aunt, the male caretaker she knicknames “Lurch” and the sweet kitchen lady, and the full range of characters carry the action while their conversations solidify the understanding of the background given in a diary. Without any one of these components this story would follow flat on its face. With all these pieces, Woodsbound, is a complete and engaging story.
Lara has this affinity for understanding and imagining a lifetime other than hers. She loves the thought of exploring an old mansion that she has been forced to spend the summer in. She can easily see herself in the days of old dancing with a suitor of adoring eyes. Then, in the attic that she is forced to live in, she finds a diary from a lady of old. As she reads the diary, Lara feels like she completely knows the story of Pen Le Rose from the 1850’s.
This is a great book, that I highly recommend!