Stuart Horten was small for his age—the smallest boy in his grade at school—and both his parents were very tall, which meant that when he stood next to them he looked about the size of an ant.
As well as being tall and quite old (especially his father), his parents were extremely clever people.
But clever people aren’t always sensible. A sensible person would never give their child a name that could be written down as S.Horten. A sensible person would realize that anyone called S.Horten would instantly be nicknamed “Shorten,” even by his friends. And Stuart had quite a lot of friends.
He also had a bike with eight gears, a yard with a tree house and a large and muddy pond. Life was pretty good. Anyway, this whole story—this unexpected, strange, dangerous story of Great-Uncle Tony’s lost legacy—began when Stuart’s mother was offered a new job. She was a doctor (not the sort who stitches up bleeding wounds but the sort who peers down a microscope) and the new job was in a hospital a hundred miles from home, which was too far for her to travel to every day.
“I could live there during the week,” she said, “but I’d hate it. I’d miss you both too much.” So that was that, thought Stuart.
Life went on as normal for a day or two, and then Stuart’s father, who was a writer (not of films or of bestselling books, but of difficult crosswords), came up with an awful suggestion.
“We could rent this house out for a year,” he said quite casually to Stuart’s mother, as if leaving the town in which Stuart had lived for his whole life was something quite minor. “We could move closer to your new hospital and see if we like it.”
“I won’t like it,” said Stuart. His father took out a road map of England and began to trace his finger northward. “Well I never,” he said, his finger halting at a black smudge. He shook his head wonderingly. “I hadn’t realized that the hospital was so close to Beeton. That’s the town where I was born—I haven’t been back in well over forty years. We could go and live there. It’s quite pleasant.” “Oh, now that would be interesting for Stuart,” said his mother. “No, it wouldn’t,” said Stuart. They didn’t listen to him. At the end of the school year, they packed up and moved to Beeton, taking Stuart with them, and though they were clever people, being clever isn’t the same as being sensible. A sensible person would know that if you had to move, then the worst possible time to move would be at the start of summer. Because when you arrived at the new house you wouldn’t know any other children, and you’d have no never very keen on that sort of thing. I was too busy inventing crosswords.” They walked in silence along Hawthorn Avenue. “Aha!” said his father as they passed an ancient red telephone booth and turned the corner into a street of shops. “Now, this is the older bit of the town. I seem to remember that the entrance to the family business used to be just along here.” He halted at a narrow passageway, but there was nothing to see apart from a pair of high-tech metal gates, firmly shut. “It’s long gone, of course,” said his father. “Though the name’s still discernible.” He pointed to a cast-iron arch that curved above the gates. A scattering of painted letters was just about visible.
© 2012 by Lissa Evans
Enter a wonderful world filled with real magic, mystery and danger. As if being small and having S. Horten as his name isn't bad enough, now 10-year-old Stuart is forced to move far away from all his friends. But on his very first day in his new home, Stuart's swept up in an extraordinary adventure: the quest to find his great-uncle Tony—a famous magician who literally disappeared off the face of the earth. Along the way, Stuart reluctantly accepts help from the annoying triplets next door…and encounters trouble from another magician who's also desperate to get hold of Tony's treasures.
A quirky, smart, charming page-turner, Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms, by Lissa Evans, will enchant young readers—and their parents, too. (Ages 8-12)
Hardcover Book : 272 pages
Publisher: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. ( )
Item #: 13-631090
Product Dimensions: 5.0 x 7.0 inches
Product Weight: 11.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)