Book Review: 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson

100cup Title: 100 Cupboards
Author: N.D. Wilson
Genre: Children’s fantasy
Publisher: Random House
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
First line: Henry, Kansas, is a hot town.

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson is an enthralling children’s fantasy, with a great mixture of humor, adventure, and scary moments. I read this aloud to my four kids (Natalie, 12; Noah, 10; Jonathan, 9; and Josiah, 7) and we all loved it – and were on the edge of our seats during the final chapter.

Henry is 12 years old, and his parents have been kidnapped. He hopes they get home safe, but meanwhile, he’s enjoying his stay with his Uncle Frank and Aunt Dotty and their three daughters Penelope, Henrietta, and Anastasia on their farm in Henry, Kansas. Henry’s parents were extremely over-protective (they sent him to boarding school with a helmet to wear during P.E.), but Henry’s Uncle Frank believes in letting boys be boys, and Henry is thoroughly enjoying the newfound freedom of a pocket knife and learning to play baseball – without a helmet.

One night, as Henry is sleeping in his bed in the attic, a piece of plaster falls on top of him. He inspects the wall, and finds a small cupboard door under the plaster. Over the next several nights, Henry removes all the plaster from the wall and discovers 99 small cupboard doors. As he continues to investigate, he learns that each door leads into a different world. One of these worlds seems strangely familiar, while another is downright meancing. Of course, these doors are tiny, so there isn’t a way to actually visit any of these places – or is there?

This is a great read-aloud – I enjoyed it as much as the kids did. It had a great balance of fantasy and adventure and Henry learning how to be in a family. My only complaint is that some of the descriptive metaphor was a bit over-blown, resulting in my having to stop reading and explain something in response to the puzzled looks I was seeing in my younger two boys’ eyes. I also wish the author had more fully addressed the issue of Henry’s parents – what happened to them, and why Henry doesn’t miss them.

After finishing this book, we knew it had to be the first in a series. We will be reading book two very soon, because the kids can’t wait to find out what happens to Henry and his new family.

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14 Responses to Book Review: 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson

  1. Melody says:

    Sounds great! I’m going to add this to my wishlist!!

  2. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    Thanks to you, Carrie, this read aloud thing is now a very big deal in our house. I even tried reading to them over a meal, and that went over well because it wasn’t cutting into their homework or play time (God forbid). I’m going to write this one down! BTW, right now we are reading “39 Clues” at home and in the car, we are doing The Hunger Games on audio. The Hunger Games are driving them wild. They don’t want to do anything else but listen. I have to say, I think it is one of the best YA I’ve read!

  3. Andrea_R says:

    We’ve convinced Emma to start enjoying chapter books, which I get to read aloud to her. this sounds pretty good.

    I’ve been doing the stopping and explaining bit too. We’re reading “The Saturdays”

  4. Kathy says:

    Any book that both you and your kids love is a great one! I love the title and the cover too!

  5. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    Melody – I hope you like it!

    Sandy – I have the Hunger Games on my list – I just need to get to it! I wish our library had it on audio. My kids have been devouring the 39 Clues series, but we haven’t done any as read-alouds.

    Andrea – I’ve heard good things about The Saturdays – I think Natalie might have read it. I’m loving this read-aloud thing, cause it gives me a reason to read a lot of great children’s lit.

    Kathy – We’ve been pretty lucky with most of our read-aloud choices – haven’t had a real clunker in a while.

  6. Nicola
    Twitter: lilelizajane

    I’m so glad you and the kids enjoyed this one. I thought it was just wonderful as well. I’ve read Book Two and it is also very exciting!

  7. Ladytink_534 says:

    This one is on my list! It sounds like such a good story and I just love fantasy like this!

  8. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    Nicola – glad to hear the sequel holds up!

    Ladytink – it would make a terrific movie, too.

  9. I thought this was good, but didn’t care for the major fantasy stuff at the end. However, I can see the allure for children and how great it would be to read-aloud. I probably would like it better experiencing it with children. I need to know how much fantasy is in the second before I choose to read it or not. Glad you and your kids had fun!

  10. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    Joy – I remember reading that in your review. We’re all huge fantasy fanatics here, so it was perfect for us. The ending was quite creepy – my kids love books that scare them, but only a llittle bit. 🙂

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  12. FearieNight says:

    I loved this book. The trilling sense of mystery and wonder in let me experience was a ride I will not soon forget. I enjoyed the second book, Dandelion Fire, even more since it took place more in the world of the Fearie. I can’t wait for the last book. January never seemed so far away >_<

  13. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    FaerieNight – We are really looking forward to reading Dandelion Fire, too.

  14. your mom says: