Horton Halfpott, or, The fiendish mystery of Smugwick Manor, or, The loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's corset

Tom Angleberger

Book - 2011

Horton, an upstanding kitchen boy in a castle in nineteenth-century England, becomes embroiled in a mystery surrounding a series of thefts, which is also connected to the pursuit of a very eligible and wealthy young lady's affections.

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New York : Amulet Books/Abrams 2011.
Physical Description
206 p. : ill
Main Author
Tom Angleberger (-)
Review by Booklist Review

Horton Halfpott, the lowly (but likable) scullery boy at Smugwick Manor, falls in love with Celia Sylvan-Smythe, the young heiress, who has attracted the unwanted attention of his employers' high-born (but despicable) son Luther Luggertuck. The plot thickens when the Luggertuck Lump ( possibly the world's largest diamond and certainly the ugliest ) is stolen and a suspicious band of shipless pirates turns up in the area. Billed as . Victorian spoof. the amusing story is related by a narrator who occasionally stops the action and addresses readers directly ( Reader, do not panic ). Each chapter opens with an amusing drawing of one or more characters along with a heading, such a. In Which Miss Neversly Is Disobeyed and Dawdling Occurs . . . . and each unfolds with droll humor as well as action. From the author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (2010), here's an amusing romp of a mystery that balances skulduggery with just rewards.--Phelan, Caroly. Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Angleberger's rambling title sets readers up for this oddly entertaining tale of a downtrodden, mistreated kitchen boy who, through a series of haphazard events, becomes an unlikely hero. Horton Halfpott is a hardworking but oft-beaten servant at Smugwick Manor, home to the wealthy Luggertucks, including the nasty and demanding M'Lady Luggertuck and her cruel son, Luther. Comically ruthless and greedy, these two antagonists make their multitude of servants outright miserable. When a family treasure goes missing, a bumbling detective is brought it to find the culprit. Readers will enjoy Angleberger's (The Strange Case of Origami Yoda) penchant for the absurd as well as his many droll asides: "Fear not, Reader, we will not dwell on these romantic inklings, not if you don't wish to," he writes after "the most beautiful girl [Horton] had ever seen" smiles at him. "But it really was a nice smile." The ending satisfies, and with Angleberger's many eclectic characters, his wild-and-witty storytelling, and a lighthearted but perplexing mystery-involving a "lump" of diamonds, a couple of wigs, and a bust of Napoleon-readers are in for a treat. Ages 8-12. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Angleberger claims this tale of greed, theft, and corsets was inspired by Charles Dickens, although readers may equally suspect Roald Dahl. Downtrodden kitchen boy Horton Halfpott works for Smugwick Manor's ironfisted mistress, Lady Luggertuck. One morning she loosens her corset and the ensuing circulation causes her to sponsor a ball for her lovelorn nephew. The ball begins a chain of events leading to the theft of the Luggertuck Lump diamond, romance for Horton, and, best of all, "Shipless Piracy." While Horton's heart flutters for neighbor Celia, three enterprising stable boys mount surveillance on the manor to discover the thief. Much like Dickens or Dahl, an opinionated narrator with a strong sense of the ridiculous directs this story. His arch, mock-fanciful tone shows the absurd pretensions and underlying nastiness of Lady Luggertuck and her 16-year-old son. The narrator often uses contrasts to emphasize the differences between the mistress and her servants: "stately bedchambers" for her and "stiflingly hot attics" for them. The rich imagery adds humor and pathos to Horton's drudgery even as theft and piracy liven up the story. While not every mystery is solved (the stable boys' parentage remains a veiled secret), Horton's own reversal of fortune will provide readers the happy ending they expect. Pen-and-ink caricatures introduce each chapter and its characters. Well written, satirical, and satisfyingly silly.-Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Horn Book Review

A chatty, droll, omniscient narrator describes the trials--and ultimate triumph--of Horton Halfpott, a kitchen boy accused of stealing the pompous Luggertucks' heirloom diamond. Angleberger takes pages from Lemony Snicket and Charles Dickens (among others) to good effect here, and the blend of mystery (with more than a dash of farce), social satire, and romance (Horton gets the girl!) will win fans. (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A positively gleeful historical mystery farce. Trouble really begins around Smugwick Manor, ancestral home of the Luggertucks and current resting place of the Luggertuck Lump (world's largest and ugliest diamond), when M'Lady Luggertuck instructs her lady's maid, Crotty, toloosen her corset a bit. What follows is a general loosening all around.Usually this wouldn't affect Horton Halfpott, lowliest of kitchenboys, since he doesn't like breaking rules (agood thing, since the business end of Miss Neversly's cooking spoon is known to impart lethal corrections, and he meets it often enough even when he doesn't break rules). When the newly loosened M'Lady plans a costume ball to make a match for her snooze-inducing nephew Montgomery to the comely and amazingly well-off Celia Sylvan-Smythe, events are set in motion that involve a missing Lump, Shipless Pirates, M'Lady's evil weasel of a son, Luther, and, of course, our hero Horton. Is he up for some derring-do? Angleberger's second (The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, 2010) is a satirical homage to Dickens by way of Pratchett and Snicket. Short chapters, a fast pace and plenty of linguistic and slapstistic humor will have young readers hoping that a sequel is planned. The scribbly pen-and-ink chapter-heading cartoon illustrations are just icing on the cakeor pickle clair. A romp from start to finish. (Humor. 8-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.