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Book review: 'Curiosity House' is full of interesting characters and adventurous experiences
"Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head" is by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester. - photo by Mike Whitmer
"CURIOSITY HOUSE: The Shrunken Head," by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester, illustrated by Benjamin Lacombe, HarperCollins, $16.99, 368 pages (f) (ages 10 and up)

When McKenzie, who prefers to be called Max, shows up at Dumfreys Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities and Wonders, Pippa hopes she has a chance to make a new friend. However, Pippa and her friends Sam and Thomas soon find that Max is odd even more so than others in their troupe. The teens also realize they will have some adjusting to do if they are to continue to find peace with Mr. Dumfrey and the other residents.

Set in New York City between the two world wars, Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head follows the adventures of four young teens as they try to overcome prejudice from the outside and, maybe more importantly, between one another. Pippa, Sam and Thomas want to like Max but cant seem to break through her reluctance to become a committed member of the group.

Real trouble starts when Mr. Dumfrey comes into possession of a shrunken head, purported to be the chief of an ancient South American tribe. While the new addition to the museum increases attendance, some who come into contact with the head begin to die in mysterious ways. Pippa and her friends decide they have to find out the reason for these deaths before the museum, their only home, is shut down.

Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head introduces readers to a fascinating potpourri of individuals with talents and abilities far different from those of regular mortal beings. As authors Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester develop their story, the members of Mr. Dumfreys museum must deal with not just their personal oddities but also the reactions of the residents of New York City. And they find their individual needs are sometimes not as important as the needs of all those in their company.

Curiosity House is a well-written, delightful book with interesting characters that will delight and entertain readers young and old.

The authors are careful to keep the tension at an appropriate level for middle grade readers. While there is death and violence, its not described in detail and is shared in an age-appropriate way. There is no sexual content or foul language in the book.

The next book in the series, Curiosity House: The Screaming Statue, is scheduled to be released next spring.
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