I picked up Goblin Secrets when it won the National Book Award for young people’s literature, partly because of articles like this one from School Library Journal that pointed out how unusual it is for this award to go to a science fiction or fantasy title. As I always do, I read it with an eye to its appropriateness for my PreK-4 school library as well as its quality and child appeal.
Goblin Secrets tells the story of the orphan Rownie, who lives with the witch Graba in her movable house. Graba has collected many such unfortunate children, and she uses them to run her errands and spy for her. Her “grandchildren” used to include Rownie’s adored older brother, but he has vanished while working as an actor — a forbidden profession in the city of Zombay. Rownie joins a troop of mask-wearing goblin actors and begins to learn the dark secrets behind Graba’s power, his brother’s disappearance, and the city of Zombay itself. The book should appeal to readers in fourth grade and up who enjoyed the Magic Thief books by Sarah Prineas, although Goblin Secrets leaves many more of its mysteries unexplained than the Prineas trilogy does. Graceful prose and skillful world building add to the quality of the novel. More information about Goblin Secrets, Zombay, and masks is available at goblinsecrets.com
image from goblinsecrets.com