By Jaclyn Moriarty
When I started reading The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, I immediately knew I’d found a read-aloud I could get behind! At my house, we like reading aloud while we do chores. This book has all the elements we would look for: humor on every page; a nice dose of magic; short, episodic chapters; and an impressive web of a story. Plus, even the most seemingly insignificant details and inside jokes are tied together by the end.
In this middle grade novel, twelve-year-old Bronte must go on a journey to visit her eleven aunts as per the stipulations in her late parents’ enchanted will. She is frustrated, though. Bronte thinks these assigned visits seem pointless, and the gifts she’s tasked with delivering seem trivial. But each visit to each aunt illuminates more of who her parents were and her unique destiny following in their footsteps.
If this book is nothing else, it is funny. The banter between characters in the families is quick-witted; there’s situational humor and the characters’ reactions are over the top. My family has a flair for theatrics, so we loved reading this one. There are so many clever quips and zany circumstances, from elf soccer matches to mermaid detective work to high-seas pirate escapes.
One thing about this book is that it has lots of characters. Not only are there all those aunts, but Bronte also meets uncles, cousins, and community members at each stop along the way. There was even a very silly librarian, who was my favorite! Despite this huge cast, though, it never became overwhelming. The chapters are very short and sweet, making it tempting to gobble up “just one more!” I also liked how the visits to each aunt were like individual segments. This made it easy to follow the overall “map” of the story and to find natural pausing points. Because of that, this would make a great road-trip read-aloud or audiobook for a family with kids. Aimed at readers ages 8-12, the book has enough humor and entertainment value that teens and adults will enjoy listening in, too.
Written by Molly, Children’s Department