Midnight for Charlie Bone
(Children of the Red King, Book One)
by Jenny Nimmo
This popular series, which, as of this writing, runs four books strong, should appeal very strongly to Harry Potter
fans. Its hero is
a messy-haired little boy who never knew his father and who discovers at age 10 or 11 that he has a magical gift. As a result, Charlie is
enrolled at a school where other endowed children study, eating at house tables below the staff at their head table, and sleeping in
draughty dormitories. The school crawls with secrets, and the forces of good and evil are constantly clashing, constantly striving for
control of the magic especially, it seems, of Charlies magic. For it doesnt take long to realize that Charlie has a saving people
thinggee, why does this sound familiar?
Of course, in most other ways, this book is as different from Harry Potter as a book can be, while remaining perfect for a 10-year-
old just coming off Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. Charlie isnt an orphan; its only his father whos dead (supposedly), and
though he lives with a wonderful mother and grandmother and a strange but affectionate uncle, he also has a second grandma who is an
absolute nightmare...and her three spinster sisters are even worse! When they find out that Charlie can hear the voices of people in
photographs, the nasty Yewbeam aunts pack him off to Bloors Academy, where, in fact, most students are gifted in music, drama, or art...but
a handful, like Charlie, have strange magical gifts.
These twelve endowed children descend from the mysterious Red King, whose ten children split into factions and started a battle between good
and evil that has divided the magically endowed ever since.
So Charlie rides a bus, not a train, to school. He gets to visit home on the weekends (when he doesnt have detention). He gets to wander
not a castle, but the ruins of a castle. He meets shape-changers, hypnotists, telekinetics, a boy who talks to animals, and another boy who
experiences other peoples feelings when he puts on their clothes. He meets some cool non-magical kids too. While Charlie makes plenty
of friends and enemies at school, the most perplexing mysteries have to do with his own family. Well, that and a child whose family gave her
up to the evil Bloors, and who has been under a spell of hypnosis ever since...
These books are a fast read, formatted to be easy on young eyes and prefaced by helpful charts and explanations. After reading this first
book in the series, I was glad I had bought all four books, because enough mysteries remained unsolved to ensure that I couldnt stop at
Recommended Age: 10+
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