Separated by a spectral barrier for their own good, The World and the Kingdom of Cello haven't communicated in 300 years. Yet through a small crevice, a boy and a girl send letters back and forth, perhaps changing both for the better, perhaps setting dire danger into motion.
Elliot is ready to head north and find his father who was kidnapped a year ago by the rogue Purple that killed his uncle, while his neighbors anxiously await the Selectors who might choose their town as part of the Princess Sisters' tour of the Kingdom. His pal Cody makes all the unrepairable machines from Dad's shop into a sculpture in the schoolyard, and one day Elliot notices a small note stuck in it, a note that's not from anyone in Bonfire...
As Mum answers every quiz show question wrong, Madeleine wonders yet again how they came to be here - an attic apartment in a university town, eating baked beans again - when just months ago they were jetsetting around the world with her financier father, platinum credit cards at the ready.
Thank goodness for Jack and Belle and for their home-schooling arrangement, so none of them have to deal with the bullies and drama of high school. Jack's uncle makes their minds stretch with his assignment to 'become' the Cambridge historical figure selected from the hat - that's Isaac Newton for Mad, Charles Babbage for Belle, Lord Byron for Jack.
As Madeleine muses on Newton and Cambridge, she passes an out-of-service parking meter with a note stuck in it "Help! I'm being held against my will!" and decides to answer it, little imagining that it's a message from a world that's been sealed off from ours for over three centuries.
The correspondence between Elliot and Madeleine is interesting, as he knows about The World from history class and she thinks he's a just local who's trying a huge hoax. Trying to explain the color attacks and momentary seasons of Cello doesn't convince her of the Kingdom's reality, but something finally does.
Why is it so dangerous to have an opening between Cello and The World?
Will the Princess Sisters visit Bonfire once the Butterfly Child arrives?
Would Jack and Belle ever believe Madeleine about Cello?
Escapes and worries, attacks and misunderstandings - so much begins when that corner of white paper crosses the gap from the Kingdom of Cello to Cambridge, England. First in a series that mixes teen concerns with philosophical science, family drama with political intrigue, and what-is-not-now with what-might-someday-be.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA – blogging young adult books beyond the bestsellers at http://BooksYALove.com