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Goblin secrets

1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books, ©2012.
Physical Description:
223 pages ; 22 cm
Series title(s):
Number in series:
Hoping to find his lost brother, Rownie escapes the home of the witch Graba and joins a troupe of goblins who perform in Zombay, a city where humans are forbidden to wear masks and act in plays.
Reading Level:
Ages 8-12.

Middle School.

710 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader 4.9.

Reading Counts! 4.4.

Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.9 7.0 150923.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.4 11 Quiz: 55572.
Electronic Access:
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On Order



In the National Book Award-winning Goblin Secrets , a boy joins a theatrical troupe of goblins to find his missing brother.

In the town of Zombay, there is a witch named Graba who has clockwork chicken legs and moves her house around--much like the fairy tale figure of Baba Yaga. Graba takes in stray children, and Rownie is the youngest boy in her household. Rownie's only real relative is his older brother Rowan, who is an actor. But acting is outlawed in Zombay, and Rowan has disappeared.

Desperate to find him, Rownie joins up with a troupe of goblins who skirt the law to put on plays. But their plays are not only for entertainment, and the masks they use are for more than make-believe. The goblins also want to find Rowan--because Rowan might be the only person who can save the town from being flooded by a mighty river.

This accessible, atmospheric fantasy takes a gentle look at love, loss, and family while delivering a fast-paced adventure that is sure to satisfy.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Rownie and other "stray" children live with Graba, a Baba Yaga-type witch with mechanical, chickenlike legs. His older brother, Rowan, lived with him until he became an actor and disappeared since their city outlaws acting. Rownie, anxious to find him, runs away, much to the ire of Graba. He meets a troupe of goblin actors who teach him their craft and the secrets of the masks they wear and make. He learns to trust the goblins and thinks they will help in the search for his brother. Written in "Acts" and "Scenes" as in a staged drama, the story weaves a many-webbed tale, rich in imagination with a fairy-tale feel. However, it seems as though something important is missing in the connections among the many situations as well as the story as a whole. Also, the characters, except for Rowan, seem one dimensional without much importance in the plot. True fans of fantasy or science fiction may enjoy this book but it's additional at best.-D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Young Rownie is on a quest to find his actor brother, who disappeared from the town of Zombay, a place where acting is outlawed. His search finds him joining a troupe of goblin actors who teach him things about the world he will need in his journey. As a narrator, William Alexander turns in a solid performance. He reading is well paced. He lends drama to his young adult novel and ably creates distinctive character voices. However, his narration doesn't always capture the tone of the book. His voice is soft and slightly nasal and he sometimes overpronounces words-and this will prevent some listeners from getting lost in the fantasy. Ages 8-12. A Margaret K. McElderry hardcover. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Theater is outlawed for the humans of Zombay. But when orphan Rownie flees witch Graba's custody, he joins a performance troupe of goblins he hopes can help locate his brother (who disappeared after illegally acting); the goblins hope Rownie can prevent catastrophe from befalling the city. Rownie's journey is obscured by too many fantastical elements, but the setting is imaginative. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

(Fantasy. 9-13)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Readers of Alexander's debut are immediately thrust into a precarious situation as young Rownie is rudely awoken from sleep. He's an orphan who's been taken in by the witch Graba, but she is a crafty soul who wants things from the children she shelters. Doing her errands while fighting off hunger, Rownie also searches for his missing older brother. Alexander loads Rownie's plight and his flood-imperiled city with unnerving details: Graba's loft is filled with gray and mangy pigeons, and many citizens have limbs made of gears, chains, and springs. The narration is likewise distinctive, spiked with amusing dialogue between Rownie and the odd individuals around him. The most appealing creatures are a theatrical troupe of goblins who end up giving Rownie the home for which he's been searching. At times the story feels stitched together and a bit claustrophobic (the action is mostly confined to the city of Zombay), and the magic of masks and performance doesn't always come through. Still, Rownie and his very strange allies prove to be strangely charming.--Nolan, Abby Copyright 2010 Booklist