Monday, July 21, 2014
CURIOSITY by Gary Blackwood for MMGM
Curiosity by Gary Blackwood (April 2014, Dial, for ages 9 to 13)
Synopsis (from the publisher): Philadelphia, PA, 1835. Rufus, a twelve-year-old chess prodigy, is recruited by a shady showman named Maelzel to secretly operate a mechanical chess player called the Turk. The Turk wows ticket-paying audience members and players, who do not realize that Rufus, the true chess master, is hidden inside the contraption. But Rufus’s job working the automaton must be kept secret, and he fears he may never be able to escape his unscrupulous master. And what has happened to the previous operators of the Turk, who seem to disappear as soon as Maelzel no longer needs them?
Why I recommend it: The Philadelphia connection drew me in (I was born in Philadelphia, as was my father and, in fact, both of his parents), but then I kept reading because, hey, it's Gary Blackwood (The Shakespeare Stealer) and he's a master of historical fiction filled with intrigue and atmosphere. What the synopsis doesn't tell you: first, Rufus is handicapped (but never makes a big deal out of it), and second, this novel is loosely based on true events. Johann Nepomuk Maelzel was a real person, the Turk was an actual invention in the age of steam, and Edgar Allan Poe (who plays a cameo here) really did write an essay about Maelzel's chess-playing automaton.
For links to other MMGM posts, visit Shannon's blog.
Posted by Joanne R. Fritz at 7:00 AM
Labels: middle grade novels
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Ooh, this sound ps so interesting! I love books with a mystery and this one seems unique.ReplyDelete
It certainly is that, Andrea.Delete
Loved the cover and what a great premise. It's always enjoyable to read a story unlike any others. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention.ReplyDelete
You're welcome, Greg. Hope you get a chance to read it.Delete
What an awesome premise! This is going on my to-read list. Thanks, Joanne!ReplyDelete
Anytime, Barbara. Hope you get a chance to read it.Delete
You've done it again. :) This book sounds fantastic and I've never, ever, heard of it before.
It's going on my list. I wonder if they have a copy at my library. Hmmm...
:) Hope your library has a copy, Akoss!Delete
Oh boy...I want to read this one...now! Thanks for sharing. And yeah, it's Gary Blackwood!ReplyDelete
Yes! Another Gary Blackwood fan.Delete
This sounds fascinating! Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Joanne.ReplyDelete
You're quite welcome, Michael. Hope you find time to read it.Delete
This sounds really intriguing! I love the chess, the automaton, and the fact that it's based on real history. I'll be checking this out!ReplyDelete
I loved that about it too, Jenni.Delete
Really cool premise! And I've been amazed in traveling around how many schools have a chess club. Even some very low income schools have them. It could be a great tie in. In fact maybe I'll do a chess club meets book club blog post.ReplyDelete
Hi, Rosanne! Chess club meets book club sounds great.Delete
Wow, I hadn't heard of this one, and now I'm bumping it up my list pronto. It might fit in nicely with a presentation I'm making in the fall (if the proposal gets accepted ...)ReplyDelete
Sounds intriguing, Dianne. Good luck with your proposal.Delete
This sounds like a really different story. Not anything like I've seen around. Thanks for sharing it.ReplyDelete
It certainly is different, Natalie, and even different from Gary Blackwood's other historicals.Delete
Love this cover and the book sounds awesome. I love MG HF and I have a feeling I am going to love this one. I so enjoyed the tidbits about the book/history you shared, along with your thoughts on the book. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Glad you enjoyed the post, Jess! Thanks.Delete
Great, great cover. The book sounds terrific. Thanks for telling me about this one.ReplyDelete
My pleasure, Rosi.Delete