A book by Bill Richardson. The book follows the story of Penelope, a girl from the village of Hamelin. When the Pied Piper comes to take away the children of Hamelin (on Penelope's eleventh birthday), Penelope awakes to find that she has been stricken deaf during the night. Since she could not hear the piper's music, she is the only child left in the village. Her parents send for Cuthbert, a wise man and seer who as a coming of age ritual reveals to every girl in the village her special purpose or talent. He tells Penelope that her gift is for deep dreaming, and that her gift is tied to the Pied Piper. Penelope's father is a harpmaker, and her sister is a glorious singer. Much of the book focuses on music and musical instruments as magical implements. Penelope sets off on a quest to save the children of Hamelin. She enters the dream world and along the way is joined by the family cat, a three-legged dog, a blind harpist, a rope-skipping dragon, and a sort of hedgehog-bat-bird thing called a Trolavian. Trolavians always sing. She also discovers the secret origin of the Pied Piper's powers, and how to keep him from rising to terrible power. The story is told in flashback by Penelope, now 101 years old, and nearing her death.

The book is an interesting fairy tale, but a bit cliche. When Penelope is faced with a puzzle or problem, the answer seems to just be dropped in her lap. She doesn't reason it out or spend time solving the problem, she just says, " Eureka, that's it!, " solves the problem, and moves on. Pragmatic, to be sure, but not thrilling narrative. The plot twists are not terribly novel either. Early on, the story sets up that the Pied Piper has a brother. By this point in the book, the reader can tell that it must be Cuthbert. Richardson continues on as though the identity of the brother is some big secret, but only for about three pages. He acts as though the suspense should have been tremendous. The book does hold your attention, but could have been much better.

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