Written by: Anne Nesbet
On their first day in Paris, Maya and her little brother, James, find themselves caught up in some very old magic. Houses with bronze salamanders for door handles, statues that look too much like Maya’s own worried face, a man wearing sunglasses to hide his radiant purple eyes…nothing is what it seems.
The summary is from the book cover provided by Harper Collins Children’s Books.
This book has a fresh, unique perspective on what life is and what you can do with it. The blending of magic and science, combined with the history of the Fourcroy family is very creative and the characters are wonderful! Maya and James have a great relationship, which is refreshing because the story actually focuses on the plot instead of sibling rivalry. Also, the new friend they meet, Valko, is interesting, kind, and fun. It has been quite a while since I read a book with such a strange plot. I am going to need to search for more of these!
1. Maps: The kids talk about walking to school, the Eiffel Tower, and the house with the Salamander door. Look at a map of Paris and locate the Eiffel Tower. See if you can figure out from the directions they walk where they might have lived and where the salamander house is. You may even be able to find where James goes to school! You could also find other landmarks (try important historical sites) and mark them on your map. Write the details on notecards and add them to the map connecting them to the exact spot with string.
2. Make a family tree. Go back as far as you can, calling relatives if you need to. Maya’s ancestors had a great story about a scientist marrying a woman of magic. What professions did your ancestors have and were any of them unique? Could you perhaps write a fictional story about any of them? If you feel creative, add a few descendants and tell what professions you hope they will have, if you think they will marry, and if you think they will have children.
3. Spoiler alert:) The bottles in the book hold time in a way that you could take it back if you wanted. If the cabinet really existed, describe what choices you would make and why. Tell everything!
This book has many similarities with Tuck Everlasting, except the characters in that book couldn’t go back and change things. It is a great read and it really ups the stakes when you can’t go back. Give it a read and see what you think!