Rating: 5 stars
“The Peddler’s Road” is the latest book by wonderful children’s author Matthew Cody and the first book in his new series, “The Secrets of the Pied Piper.” This story is based on the original Grimm fairy tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. As in the Grimm fairy tale, the pied piper in this story magically lures the children of Hamelin away from the town when they refuse to pay his fee for ridding the town of rats. In Cody’s version, one crippled boy is left behind when he can’t keep up with the other children as they run after the piper and his enchanted music.
Cody then bring the readers to modern-day Hamelin where a brother and sister from New York are visiting with their professor father. Max, a tough girl with pink hair, feels very protective of her brother Carter. Max is 13, two years older than her brother who was born with a genetic problem that causes him to walk poorly. He has a brace on his leg. And that’s the connection with the last child of Hamelin who didn’t get lured away with the piper.
Max and her brother end up lured to the music of the piper and find themselves on magical Summer Isle, a place where the original children of Hamelin have never aged and it never is winter nor night. But things are changing on Summer Isle, and the place that was once idyllic (most of the time) has grown increasingly threatening. Winter comes with more frequency when the sun does disappear and night arrives. Where it used to occur rarely and for only one night, the icy cold has been happening more frequently. Worse than the chilling temperature are the monsters and gigantic rats that appear in the dark. Creatures that try to kill the children.
With the arrival of Carter, who with his limp is seen as the “last child of Hamelin,” or the one who was left behind, the children of Summer Isle think that there might be a way for them to escape and go home. However to do that, they must follow the cryptic wording on a magical map and go to the Black Tower where the piper has been imprisoned. On the way they meet another magical figure, the peddler. The peddler is the magician who created the road that crosses Summer Isle and helps keep evil at bay.
Over the course of the story, the adventurers learn that the peddler and the piper were once good friends. Now they are enemies. Will the peddler help them find the Black Tower where the piper is imprisoned? What will happen if the children of Hamelin are able to escape after centuries on Summer Isle? Find the answers to these questions by reading this enchanting and clever novel. But be forewarned — there are just as many new questions that will arise before the story is done.
This is a great book for middle grade lovers of adventure and magic. It would be a wonderful read aloud for the classroom and a great addition to any classroom library.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Knopf Books for Young Readers, for review purposes.