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Horton Halfpott: or, the Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, the Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset [Paperback]

Tom Angleberger

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Book Description

1 Mar 2012
Tom Angleberger's latest, loopiest middle-grade novel begins when M'Lady Luggertuck loosens her corset (it's never been loosened before!), thereby setting off a chain of events in which all the strict rules of Smugwick Manor are abandoned. When, as a result of the Loosening," the precious family heirloom, the Luggertuck Lump, (quite literally a lump), goes missing, the Luggertucks look for someone to blame. Is it Horton Halfpott, the good-natured but lowly kitchen boy who can't tell a lie? OR one of the many colourful cast members in this silly romp of a mystery.

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Horton Halfpott: or, the Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, the Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset + Fake Mustache: or, How Jodie O'Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind + Art2-D2's Guide to Folding and Doodling: An Origami Yoda Activity Book
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Amulet Books; Reprint edition (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781419701696
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419701696
  • ASIN: 141970169X
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 678,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Tom Angleberger is the author of the runaway bestseller The Strange Case of Crigami Yoda and the sequel Darth Paper Strikes Back.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful... 20 Jun 2011
By Book 'Em! Blog - Published on
In this delightful children's tale, we are taken into the world of Horton Halfpott, no one special, just the kitchen boy who cannot tell a lie.

Angleberger hooks readers from page one with his introduction paragraph. It's simple - "there are so many exciting things in this book - a stolen diamond, snooping stable boys, a famous detective, the disappearance of a valuable wig, love, pickle eclairs, unbridled evil, and the black deeds of the shipless pirates -"

And thus the author summarizes the entire novel with a simple paragraph. Yet, the plot is more than just that. It is a delightful, chuckle-filled read.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dickensian kidlit ... a delight to read! 9 May 2011
By William K. Leonard - Published on
The full title of the book is Horton Halfpott, or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor, or The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset. The cover glows in the dark. This, by the way, is only the fun that you get to have before opening the book.

This story is a whole lot of fun. As the titles suggest, the story starts as M'Lady Luggertuck wears her corset a little less tight one day, setting off a strange feel in the air, which sets off all kinds of peculiar events. These culminate in the theft of the Luggertuck family treasure, and all manner of chaos and mayhem as the crime is investigated.

Make no mistake, this is definitely kidlit. It's written at a great level for children. Were I to choose a primer for the later reading of Dickens, though, this would be it. If Charles Dickens himself wrote a piece of modern children's literature, I think it might look a lot like Horton Halfpott. Being a huge Dickens fan, by the way, I do not say this casually.

Horton Halfpott himself could well be a Dickensian protagonist. He's a hard-working, loyal-to-a-fault kitchen boy in Smugwick Manor who gets caught up in the mystery and a plot to kidnap the young lady Celia, a young lady from nearby with whom he falls in love. The boy is every bit as lovable as Oliver Twist, which is saying quite a lot.

The villains and various scoundrels around the story (the head of the kitchen, the Shipless Pirates, etc.) are a true joy to read. The story is a delight. Tom's Acknowledgments credit Charles Dickens with inspiring the story, and it really shows. The sympathy for the poor and downtrodden, contempt for the rich and stuck-up, and celebration of the wealthy and compassionate are so very enjoyable.

The book doesn't take itself too seriously, though. Whenever the story turns to romantic thoughts, the narrator assures us that he won't dwell on such things too much. We are assured once that while Horton was dwelling, the narrator won't do so.

When my wife and I are reading in the living room, we will frequently read a sentence or passage out loud because it's so well-written, so expressive, or otherwise worth sharing. I must have read a quarter of the book to my wife, and I felt like I was being too selective. In a way, I think I should have just read the book out loud to her.

Having read all four of Tom Angleberger's novels (two of which are written under the pseudonym Sam Riddleburger) -- The Qwikpick Adventure Society by Sam Riddleburger, Stonewall Hinkleman and the Battle of Bull Run by Sam R. and Michael Hemphill, and The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom A. -- I feel like I need to comment on his writing style. In all cases, the narration is a lot of fun. But he has not used the same voice in any of them. The other three books have been in wonderful first-person narration, but by very different characters (Yoda having been by more than one character). Horton uses a wonderful third-person narration brilliantly executed in order to maintain the humor of the story.

Coming in at 206 pages and with plenty of Tom's illustrations, it's a pretty quick read, and well worth the time. This is a feel-good book that carries on the Dickensian spirit without the work of getting through Dickens' language. Even so, Tom's use of wordcraft is every bit as enjoyable.

A heartily-deserved five stars.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giddy British Mystery Spoof 30 April 2011
By Kate Coombs - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Angleberger is the guy who wrote a whole book about a fortune-telling origami Yoda, so you shouldn't be surprised by the title of his latest: Horton Halfpott or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset. Right there, you know you're in for an absolutely spiffing romp of a tale!

The story begins with Lady Luggertuck unexpectedly asking her maid to tie her corset a little less tightly. She's never done that before, and the manor house's crew of oppressed servants twitches mildly in the direction of chaos as a result. As the back jacket copy puts it: "Shelves go undusted! Cake is eaten! Lunch is lukewarm!"

Then a family heirloom disappears, and the servants naturally get the blame. But Horton and his friends, the stable boys, who sound like a slightly objectionable law firm (Blight, Blemish, and Bump), are determined to discover the real thief. Along the way, Horton falls hard for a girl above his station and the Shipless Pirates complicate things considerably. Besides which, there's the obligatory sneering villain to make life hard for our hero.

Tongue-in-cheek is Angleberger's rallying cry in this book, as he takes on a traditional genre (um, Upstairs-Downstairs Melodrama? Gothic English Manor House Mystery with Highwaymen?) and makes it his own. Here's young Horton, not to mention the pleasantly intrusive Narrator:

"'Lazy, lazy, lazy boy!' roared Miss Neversly, a middle-aged woman with two hundred years' worth of meanness in her. Her wild black hair whipped across her furious face as she swung her spoon at the servant boy. 'Wretched wart-covered ape!'

"Beware, Reader, do not form an opinion of Horton based on Miss Neversly's cruel words. True, he had just been a trifle careless in the matter of firewood fetching. However, he is to be the hero of our story and it is only fair to point out that he was ill-paid and ill-treated for his services, which mostly involved the washing of dishes and was normally done quite carefully."

Be sure to watch for the author's parody of Hercule Poirot and his ilk, AKA The Greatest Detective in all of England. Plus the harried and harrying members of the press. I also really enjoyed Angleberger's frequent references to supposed previous volumes about Lady Luggertuck, e.g., "Faithful readers will remember that M'Lady Luggertuck had a fear of forks ever since the events recounted in 'M'Lady Luggertuck Hires a Tattooed Nanny.'"

Outrageous? Oh, yes! But very funny, and very fun. For the kid with a taste for farce, Horton Halfpott is just the ticket.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, quick and fun. 14 Aug 2012
By Jasmine Baggenstos - Published on
Horton Halfpott is an odd little book, but so, so fun.

Everything about Horton Halfpott is absurd in the best way from the names to the happenings. I mean, we have characters called Bump, Blight, and Blemish. Not to mention Smugwick Manor and M'Lady Luggertuck. Then, of course, we have the crazy happenings like a giant wig being stolen and a Lump going missing. And there's even a lovely young lady who catches the eye of our young hero, Horton.

The crazy story is fun, but I think my favorite part of the book was the narrator. He often speaks straight to the Reader and is rather opinionated. You don't usually find an opinionated third-person omniscient narrator.

The Nutshell: If you're looking for a quick, fun middle grade then look no further than Horton Halfpott. I read it in just a couple hours and it managed to get to laugh out loud a few times :]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horton Halfpot: Or the Fiendish Mystery of Smugwich Manor 6 Mar 2012
By Linda Herbert - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you are missing the fact that the Lemony Snicket series is over then this is something you should definitely look into. The style is similar without the definitions.
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