The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

Series website includes official book trailer – I love the updated cover!

Summary: Modo is found at a traveling freak show as a infant by a man who wants to use Modo’s chameleon ability to mimic faces (and later, bodyshapes). Mr. Socrates takes Modo and raises him in seclusion then later dumps the teenager on the streets of London to pass a survival test. Modo uses his abilities and strength to become a PI (finder of lost things). He’s hired by teen Octavia to help find her brother but she’s actually another of Mr. Socrates’s operatives in town. Both Modo and Tavia become allies in the investigation to find out what the evil Clockwork Guild has in store for the leaders of Europe.

Personal Reaction: Audiobook narrator Jayne Entwistle was excellent. Some story similarities with Hunchback of Notre Dame in that the main character is deformed and is taken in by an older man who intends to hide him away from people until useful. There’s a version of Dr. Hyde. Steampunk genre. One of my favorite parts is the underwater scene where Fuhr decides to make it to the dock. I can definitely see how this novel will lead into a series of more adventures for Modo (and hopefully Tavia too!) Only Mrs. Finchley shows Modo guarded affection, though Mr. Socrates and Tharpa were not mean, but I ached to hug Modo.

Connections to other books: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of course! The rest of this series, start with book 2 The Dark Deeps; Steampunk genre titles like Leviathan by Westerfeld – here’s a list by Goodreads; NF Books about clockwork, steam powered items, Victorian Era London

Items to display with book: clockwork toys of any kind, but sparrow/bird or photo of same would be best; photos of orphanages in Victorian era London; photos of hairy children might be pushing it, but this one works; masks (black and flesh tone) and your kids could make their own; dark cape with hood; era spyglass;

Food items connected to story: bread, butter, honey, cheese

Gr 7+ (maybe gr 6 if the child doesn’t have nightmares often)