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Marianne Malone

Marianne MaloneMarianne Malone is the cofounder of the Campus School Middle School for Girls in Urbana, Illinois. She and her husband divide their time between Urbana and Washington, D.C. Learn more at Marianne Malone’s website.

Click here for more stories by Marianne Malone.

The Sixty-eight Rooms: Great concept not fully explored

The Sixty-eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

The Sixty-Eight Rooms has a really fun premise. Sixth-graders Ruthie and Jack visit the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago, and discover a magic key that enables them to shrink to doll-size and explore the rooms up close. It turns out that each room opens onto a real landscape from the time it portrays, complete with real people that Ruthie and Jack can interact with. I thought this was a great concept, and I remember thinking that Marianne Malone should set a sequel in the Fairy Castle at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Well, as it turns out, Malone has plenty of room for sequels without ever lea... Read More

Stealing Magic: Full of unmet potential

Stealing Magic by Marianne Malone

Stealing Magic is the second book in Marianne Malone’s SIXTY-EIGHT ROOMS adventure series for middle grade readers. The series has a fascinating premise — two 6th grade kids find a way to explore the Thorne Rooms in the Art Institute of Chicago and discover that they can use the rooms to get into the world of the time period the rooms depict. But Bill, Kelly, and I were disappointed because there was too little time spent actually exploring the fantasy worlds (which would be the fun part). Bill suggested that the first book might be an introduction to the series and he hoped for more adventure in subsequent novels.

Since the publisher of the audio version of the series rece... Read More

The Pirate’s Coin: Slight improvement

The Pirate’s Coin by Marianne Malone

The Pirate’s Coin, the third book in Marianne Malone’s SIXTY-EIGHT ROOMS fantasy adventure series for children, is a slight improvement over the first two novels, The Sixty-Eight Rooms and Stealing Magic, which three of us here at FanLit agreed did not meet the potential of Malone’s excellent premise. Readers who haven’t dropped out yet, presumably because they have enjoyed the series so far, should also be pleased with this installment.

Ruthie and Jack just can’t stay away from the Thorne Rooms in the Art Institute of Chicago. This time the plot involves two separate threads that (again) take place in the worlds of two of the Thorne Rooms. One involves a classmate that Ruthie and Jack discover is a descendant of... Read More

The Secret of the Key: Premise is fabulous, execution falls short

The Secret of the Key by Marianne Malone

The Secret of the Key appears to be the final book in Marianne Malone’s SIXTY-EIGHT ROOMS adventures. This children’s series has been a bit of a disappointment for me and the only reason I have continued with it is that I requested a review copy of the audiobook edition of this final book and so I felt obligated to read it. As three of us have previously mentioned, the premise is fabulous, but the execution falls short.

The stories follow Ruthie and Jack, two sixth graders who find a way to shrink and explore the Thorne Rooms in the Art Institute of Chicago. The two likable kids discover that the rooms open up to the worlds of the time periods they represent. In each installment they go into those worlds and interact with the children they find there, always learning... Read More