Books for kids to read: The Kneebone Boy

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The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter is one of the Reading Kingdom’s recommended books for kids to read. Melissa Gaynor explains why:

What You Need to Know:

• Three quirky siblings go on an unexpected adventure and encounter some unusual characters.
• While definitely odd, the children are intriguing and engaging, drawing the reader in with their sharp minds and perseverance, despite their sad existence.
• Potter’s writing style is refreshingly unique and edgy.
• The mysterious narrator allows the reader to peek inside the thoughts of each of the siblings.
• Look out for mentions of murder, tattoos, deformities, a mugger, a beating, a dungeon, rats, ominous strangers, a crush on a teacher, knives, guns, a large cyst and an insane asylum.


This story has a sardonic, mischievous edge that sets it apart. There are none of the typical outlandish characters we see these days – no vampires, reality stars or actual murderers – but there are strange and unexpected elements throughout. Potter gives the hint of something unusual on every page. The narrator, one of the three siblings (although they won’t say which one) speaks directly to the reader with honesty and an element of humor. The language can be somewhat sophisticated and there may be some challenging words like portcullis, precipice or restive. There are questionable ideas like a career in tattooing people’s bums, creepy situations like rats in the dungeon where they sleep, scary moments when they feel they’re being watched and disgusting images like squeezing a giant cyst (ugh) found on their elderly neighbor. Although things tie up a little too neatly, the dark ending is consistent with the rest of the story and could be disturbing to some young readers.”

Have your children read The Kneebone Boy? What did they think of the book?

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