The Skull of Truth
by Bruce Coville
In the other three "Magic Shop Books," the adventure begins when a child, running from some bullies (or at least, from a girl who wants to
kiss him) finds himself on a strange street, in front of a strange shop owned by Mr. Elives. And then the child spends a handful of pocket
change to buy a magical item that can help him or her deal with his own special problem. Charlie Egglestons adventure begins a bit
differently. Charlie has a problem with the truth, and perhaps it is the streak of dishonesty in him that leads him to shoplift a skull from
Mr. Elives shop.
By and by, Charlie finds out that Mr. Elives knows he has the skull, knows where he lives, and could make him pay for it if he wants to...but
doesnt. Mr. Elives is actually quite relieved to get rid of the talking skull, which belongs to a medieval Danish court-jester named
Yorick. As Yorick chatters straight into Charlies brain, something remarkable happens. Wise-acre he may be, but Yorick can only tell the
truth. Thats how he ended up as a skull. And now everyone in Charlies house has to tell the truth, while Yorick is under the same roof.
You would think a dose of truth would be helpful and sometimes, it is but it can also be disastrous!
Amid the humor and horror of family members and dinner guests uttering uncomfortable truths they did not mean to say aloud, this story also
teaches some lessons about accepting other people as they are, not worrying about what other people think of you, and protecting the
environment. It might be a bit preachier than it needs to be, and the vague sense of menace that Coville carefully builds may seem to simply
evaporate without the expected, climactic resolution. Nevertheless, it is a funny, lighthearted adventure with a touch of suspense, a dash
of fairy-tale, and a pinch of Shakespeare.
Recommended Age: 10+
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