and the winners are
Steven Arntson and Daniela J. Terrazzini!
Creepy, creepy! And a very good read.
I didn’t want to use a stock image of this cover since half of the intrigue is the texture of the jacketless canvass. I picked it up off the shelf because it reminded me of something I would have found in my grandmother’s attic, except for the image of the long-fingered monster reaching toward the children.
I just finished it tonight and can report that the book was well worth the time. Being both a monster story and a kids’ book, the author does an excellent job of building suspense about the creature and endearing the reader to the heroes without getting too scary.
I’m tempted to think it was intended to be vaguely allegorical, but there’s a strong vein of social commentary whether it is or isn’t. It takes place at some point in the future when the logical extreems of overprotective culture have created a helpless race of technology slaves, “old” objects are viewed with distrust and every activity of daily life has been streamlined into oblivion. The lead character is a little girl named Henrietta, a child plagued by a malady called “house sickness,” in which she experiences inexplicable, crippling headaches. Try as she might, she can never seem to fit into her community, when one day a startling discovery uncovers the secret to her difference and her illness… a little formulaic? Maybe, but the suspense is well designed and the plot well crafted, and the ending is sufficiently unpredictable to keep the pages turning.
The papercut illustrations lend an old-world flare to the story, although the presence of computer monitors and cars in some of them give them a modern twist. Old meets new, antique meets cutting edge technology. The theme is carried off very well.