The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone is set in the United States in 1941. Most of the story takes place prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but Felicity is a British girl--sent to live with her American relatives--so she has already seen World War II at her front door. This is a many-layered story, one of family, questions, friendship, and mystery, and it has a little something for every type of reader.
The premise: When Felicity's parents bring her across the ocean to stay with relatives she's never met, she knows there's more to the story than the dangerous conditions in London during World War II. There are secrets everywhere. Her parents have secrets, her relatives have secrets, there is a secret person who doesn't come out of a bedroom upstairs, there is another room whose door is always locked, and secret coded letters arrive for Felicity's Uncle Gideon. Felicity decides to crack the code and all the other secrets too.
What keeps readers reading: It's the mystery and intrigue. Or maybe it's the quirky, fun characters. Wait, perhaps it's the voice of the story. No, it's the appeal to both girl and boy readers. Okay, I got it, it's the story's fresh take on World War II. Sheesh, I just loved everything about The Romeo and Juliet Code. The balance of elements presented by Phoebe Stone is amazing, the issues her book brings to the surface make readers think, and a little bit of Shakespeare never hurts a story. Many layers, I tell you. Unravel the code and secrets along with Felicity.
And . . . I'm giving away a copy of The Romeo and Juliet Code! The one I have for the giveaway is a paperback, but don't ask why I have a paperback of a book that isn't out in paperback yet (and it's not an ARC) because that is a secret. U.S. mailing addresses may enter for the giveaway by commenting on this post by Sunday, December 11, 2011, 8pm CST. Read and discover the intrigue.
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Happy middle grade reading!