Hyacinth and the Secrets Beneath

A few boring weeks after her mother forces her to move to London from Illinois, all 12-year-old Hyacinth Hayward wants is a sink that combines hot and cold water. An attempt at amateur plumbing unleashes a magic drop of water into London's sewers, and Hyacinth learns she has until midnight to track it down and exchange it for her mother--who has been kidnapped. In the sewers, she meets a giant pig with index cards for every occasion (including "A YOUNG LADY OF QUALITY, TREATED MOST RUDELY BY RATS"), an old lady who's keeping secrets and an unknown side to the Royal Mail, among other surprises. As Hyacinth encounters toshers (aka sewer scavengers), anarchists and Inheritors of Order (or, as the anarchists see it: Elitists and Egalitarians), she realizes that she is the only one she can trust to use London's many secrets to save her mom.

In his first book for children, Jacob Sager Weinstein uses plentiful humor to hold together the boisterous plot as Hyacinth stumbles through her adventure. Her wry, self-aware voice ("Now, usually, I wouldn't be thrilled to have a giant underground cathedral collapsing around my ears") keeps Hyacinth and the Secrets Beneath light even in intense moments.

"I made up much less of this book than you might think," Weinstein writes in his brief author's note, and parents and teachers may find that readers are so excited for the next installment of this series that they willingly research London history to prepare. --Stephanie Anderson, assistant director for public services, Darien Library (Conn.)

Powered by: Xtenit