Name of Book: The Glass Puzzle
Author: Christine Brodien-Jones
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Audience: Grades 5-7
Summary: 11-year-old Zoé and her cousin Ian love spending the summer with Granddad in the Welsh town of Tenby. Tenby has a history of secret societies and disappearing islands, just what two 11 yr olds need to satisfy their love of adventure. When Zoé finds an odd piece of glass she is surprised to find that when she looks through it, some people in the town now possess a third eye and appear to be monsters. With the help of Ian, the cousins discover the glass is part of a puzzle, which serves as a portal to parallel worlds, including Wythernsea – one of Tenby’s disappearing islands. When they put the puzzle together, Scravens, monsters that inhabit humans, enter Tenby and take over its residents. Zoé and Ian must find an ancient rune stone and the Scraven leader before Midsummer’s Day, or the town is doomed and the portal will be closed forever.
Literary elements at work in the story: Brodien-Jones draws you into the town of Tenby by use of ancient symbols and Welsh phrases. While the story can be dark at times, it is just scary enough to keep the reader reading; not give them nightmares. Although the story is sometimes slow, it will nevertheless keep the interest of modern fantasy readers.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story: Setting the book in Wales gives the story an ancient credibility. The author said at first she set the story in a small American town but ” when I switched the location to Tenby, the story suddenly took off. My main characters came to life and new characters appeared out of nowhere, clamoring to be heard.” Also to be noted, is that both genders, children and adult, play an equally smart and influential part in the story.
Scripture: Proverbs 16:29. The violent entice their neighbors and lead them down a path that is not good.
Theological Conversation Partners: In the story, the towns people are enticed by the Scarvens power. It leads them down a very bad path. But several towns people, including the children do not succumb. Why? Because they have the right tools to fight off the Scarvens. In fact they have the right tools to save the town from the Scravens. How did they obtain the tools? By knowing who to trust and where to go. The writer of Proverbs knew this. He knew the danger of following and listening to the wrong people. Earlier in this chapter he writes “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans”. So how do we know what those plans are? We are lucky. We don’t have to go scouring caves and putting together magical puzzles. We have all we need right in front of us. We have the Bible, (Old testament wisdom and New Testament writings of Jesus and the early Christian writers), theologians, clergy, teachers, and parents. All will help us find the right signs and words to find the right path and avoid or get away from those that try to lead us down a wrong path. There is only one catch. You have to read, listen and trust these tools. The children in the story did and saved themselves, the ancient city and their town. With the tools we have we too can save ourselves and our world. When in doubt, do what the children in the story did. Persevere. It is worth it!
Faith Talk Questions:
- What tools did the children have to help them save the town?
- Was it obvious who was trustworthy and who was not?
- Have you ever needed to trust someone and not known where to go?
- Can you think of something or someone in the Bible that could help you as you try to sort out right from wrong?
- Can you think of someone in your life who can help you sort things out?
- Why is knowing the right path good for you as well as those around you?
- Can you think of a time you thought you were doing the right thing and it turned out to be wrong? What did you do?
This review was written by regular contributor Janet Lloyd.