Curiosity

Curiosity

Book - 2014
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Intrigue, danger, chess, and a real-life hoax combine in this historical novel from the author of The Shakespeare Stealer Philadelphia, PA, 1835. Rufus, a twelve-year-old chess prodigy, is recruited by a shady showman named Maelzel to secretly operate a mechanical chess player called the Turk. The Turk wows ticket-paying audience members and players, who do not realize that Rufus, the true chess master, is hidden inside the contraption. But Rufus's job working the automaton must be kept secret, and he fears he may never be able to escape his unscrupulous master. And what has happened to the previous operators of the Turk, who seem to disappear as soon as Maelzel no longer needs them? Creeping suspense, plenty of mystery, and cameos from Edgar Allan Poe and P. T. Barnum mark Gary Blackwood's triumphant return to middle grade fiction.
Publisher: Penguin Group Canada 2014
ISBN: 9780142424483
Branch Call Number: ON ORDER 2014

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ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Jun 17, 2014

“Maelzel was not the sort of creator imagined by the Deists, who fashions a sort of clockwork universe and winds it up, then sits back and watches it go and never interferes. He was more like my father’s idea of the creator: constantly tinkering with his creations, looking for ways to make them run more smoothly and perform more cleverly – the kind who makes it possible for new species to develop.”

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Jun 17, 2014

“I was like some perverse species of prisoner who felt free only when he was locked inside a tiny cell.”

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Jun 17, 2014

“If my cosseted childhood hadn’t taught me how to relate to other people, neither had it taught em to fear them.”

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Jun 17, 2014

“Out of all the books in the world, I wonder what made you choose this one.”

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Apr 20, 2014

“Maelzel was not the sort of creator imagined by the Deists, who fashions a sort of clockwork universe and winds it up, then sits back and watches it go and never interferes. He was more like my father’s idea of the creator: constantly tinkering with his creations, looking for ways to make them run more smoothly and perform more cleverly – the kind who makes it possible for new species to develop.”

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Apr 20, 2014

“I was like some perverse species of prisoner who felt free only when he was locked inside a tiny cell.”

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Apr 20, 2014

“If my cosseted childhood hadn’t taught me how to relate to other people, neither had it taught em to fear them.”

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Apr 20, 2014

“Out of all the books in the world, I wonder what made you choose this one.”

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t
Tabaqui
Jul 09, 2017

I requested this book, forgot about it, and then picked it up from the library just as I had experienced a renewed interest in chess. Therefore, I was in a mood to enjoy it, and enjoy it I did. It's not just a historical fiction novel, it's not just a book about chess, it's not even a story about growing up. No, it's a combination of the best of these. My favorite element was certainly the Turk, even more so when I discovered it was real. Secondary to this was the story of Rufus. I loved the ending (and won't spoil it) but it did seem a little sudden. The addition of Poe was likely the most intriguing part of the book, cousin and all. Overall, a well written book with no content problems and some very memorable characters.

alicat42 Aug 08, 2014

If you like chess, or just a good story this is the book for you!

BCD2013 Jun 09, 2014

NYPL Staff Pick
A madcap tale of everything from P.T. Barnum and phrenology to hunchbacks, Edgar Allan Poe, automatons, chess prodigies, murder, terrible fires, and legless men.
- Betsy BIrd

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Apr 20, 2014

Throwing in everything from P.T. Barnum and phrenology to hunchbacks, Edgar Allan Poe, automatons, chess prodigies, murder, terrible fires, and legless men, Blackwood produces a tour de force to be reckoned with. In the press materials for this book, Penguin calls it “Gary Blackwood’s triumphant return to middle grade fiction.” They’re not wrong. The man’s about to acquire a whole new generation of fans and enthusiasts.

Age Suitability

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n
navy_shark_215
Nov 03, 2015

navy_shark_215 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 15

alicat42 Aug 08, 2014

alicat42 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Jun 17, 2014

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 14

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Apr 20, 2014

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12

Summary

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ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Jun 17, 2014

Fear for the children of novels that describe their childhoods as pampered or coddled. No good can come of that. Born weak with a slight deformity of the spine, Rufus lives a lovely life with his father, a well-respected Methodist minister in early 19th century Philadelphia. That’s all before his father writes a kind of predecessor to The Origin of the Species and through a series of misadventures is thrown into debtor’s prison. Fortunately (perhaps) Rufus is a bit of a chess prodigy and his talents get him a job with a man by the name of Johann Nepomuk Maelzel. Maelzel owns an automaton called The Turk that is supposed to be able to play chess against anyone and win. With Rufus safely ensconced inside, The Turk is poised to become a massive moneymaker. But forces are at work to reveal The Turk’s secrets and if that information gets out, Rufus’s life might not be worth that of the pawns he plays.

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Apr 20, 2014

Fear for the children of novels that describe their childhoods as pampered or coddled. No good can come of that. Born weak with a slight deformity of the spine, Rufus lives a lovely life with his father, a well-respected Methodist minister in early 19th century Philadelphia. That’s all before his father writes a kind of predecessor to The Origin of the Species and through a series of misadventures is thrown into debtor’s prison. Fortunately (perhaps) Rufus is a bit of a chess prodigy and his talents get him a job with a man by the name of Johann Nepomuk Maelzel. Maelzel owns an automaton called The Turk that is supposed to be able to play chess against anyone and win. With Rufus safely ensconced inside, The Turk is poised to become a massive moneymaker. But forces are at work to reveal The Turk’s secrets and if that information gets out, Rufus’s life might not be worth that of the pawns he plays.

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