Stoneheart is Book One of the Stoneheart Trilogy. I am looking forward to reading the next book, Ironhand, when I can find some spare time. Stoneheart was a page turner and a nail biter. Young George starts out as a sniveling nerdy boy, the kind who would get picked on in school. He has anger issues. He is accused of disrupting a school field trip at the Natural History Museum. He escapes out the front entrance and takes out his anger on a small stone dragon’s head protruding from the museum wall and poking him in the back. When the carving falls from the wall, he doesn’t want to get into more trouble, so he sticks it in his coat pocket. Little does he realize what trouble he has unleashed.
This event causes the movement of the hero from the real world of modern day London across the magical threshold to another parallel London where there is an uneasy pact between the “spits” and the “taints.” Spits are statues who were created with a certain spirit. For example, a statue of a soldier is made with thoughts of portraying bravery, patriotism, and love for his comrades. A taint is a statue with no “spirit,” for example, a gargoyle or a dragon or other mythical creature. George soon discovers that for some reason the taints are after him and the spits are trying to help him. He teams up with a tough scrabble girl from the streets. They go to the Sphinxes along the Thames for some answers, only to have more questions after the crytic answers. Their quest is for the Heart of Stone or Stoneheart in London. On the way George meets many strange personalities and creatures. He learns ingenuity, how to stand up for himself and how to be brave where before he would have been fearful and unable to act. He develops an affection for the girl and the Gunner (a soldier statue) and realizes he now has friends.
The characters are well developed and interesting. The underlying message is perhaps that we can accomplish more and be better people when we can keep control of our anger. I think boys and girls would enjoy this book. Some of the vocabulary is advanced so I would set a minimum age of 12 depending on reading level. This would be a great book to have the student use with a vocabulary journal, writing down words they don’t understand, defining them and then writing a sentence using the word. I did this in 5th grade and it was an excellent way to expand my vocabulary. The book does not contain any violence too graphic for the age range and no blantant sexual references. Adults might pick up a violent sexual vibe from a couple situations referred to. For kids of the tween age, the references will probably go swoosh, right over their heads.
I really enjoyed this book. ISBN-13: 978-1-4231-0176-5, 450 pages.