Hayley’s parents disappeared when she was a baby. Since then, she has been raised and homeschooled by her grandparents. Grandad is overworked and travels a lot; Grandma is much too strict and never lets her meet any children her own age. When Hayley does something wrong—she is not quite sure what—they pack her off to her aunts in Ireland. To Hayley’s shock, her family is much bigger than she thought; to her delight, the children all play what they call “the game,” where they visit a place called “the mythosphere.” And while she plays the game, Hayley learns more about her own place in the world than she had ever expected. This original novella by Diana Wynne Jones is sharply funny, fast-paced, and surprising until its very end—like all of this acclaimed author’s work.
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Diana Wynne Jones is the multiple award-winning author of dozens of books, including Howl’s Moving Castle (made into an Oscar-nominated animated film by Hayao Miyazaki), the five-book Chrestomanci series, The Chronicler of Dalemank, Fire and Hemlock, and The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. She lives with her husband, the medievalist J. A. Burrow, in Bristol, England, the setting of many of her books. They have three grown children and five grandchildren.From School Library Journal:
Grade 5–8—What if just outside of Earth's known atmosphere there sat another layer that was actually a different dimension? Such is the premise for this novel. For as long as she can remember, orphan Hayley has lived sequestered away with her strict grandmother and mysteriously busy grandfather. A chance meeting on an outing lands her in big trouble and she finds herself shipped off to stay with relatives in the country. Here Hayley meets dozens of cousins who invite her to play a strange game. Its object is to go to different places in the mythosphere and retrieve various items while dodging mythological creatures. The plot thickens when she meets her father and learns that he and her mother are both trapped in the mythosphere as punishment for their illicit marriage. Hayley frees them and discovers that she, like all of the other characters in the story, is really a mythological figure who can live in either realm. Meanwhile, the frightening family patriarch, Uncle Jolyon, finds out about the game and comes after the girl, her parents, and her cousins. As he prepares to punish them all, Hayley pierces his chest with a star, causing him to transform into the planet Jupiter. While the beginning parallels The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the story takes off on its own midway through. There is a whole lot of plot for such a little novel, and readers unfamiliar with mythology won't fully appreciate it.—Nicki Clausen-Grace, Carillon Elementary School, Oviedo, FL
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