The Hunchback Assignments The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

I love picking up a book and immediately thinking of several kids to give it to. There’s a historical setting, which is there more for atmosphere than anything else, an orphaned hunchback with a knack for rearranging his features, a benevolent (or is he?) father figure, plenty of steampunk-ish machines, a few strolls through London’s sewers, plenty of action, mysterious associations and secret plots…what more do you need? Plus, the audio version is perfectly narrated, with accents and enough differences between the voices so that you always know who’s talking. It makes for a great read-aloud, particularly with all the fantastic names.

It’s the first in a new series, but it strikes a fine balance where the action of this book is wrapped up, but larger questions remain about the Permanent Association, Modo’s past and future, etc. There’s plenty of action, but story also raises moral questions and the characters are complex and interesting, and I hope that we learn more about them in later installments. I’d say 5th or 6th grade and up.

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