The day Leo became the owner of the music box, his life changed forever.
Although Leo was pleased to be the new owner of the music box, a family treasure hundreds of years old, he had no idea what he held in his hands. It had been willed to him by his great-aunt Bethany, and it never occurred to him that anything she'd owned could be dangerous or surprising. But when his least favorite cousin Mimi came to stay with Leo and his parents, he began to learn what secrets the box held.
It was made out of black wood, about the size of a shoebox. The lid was very plain, with a narrow oval ring of silver in the center. The sides were painted with bright, incredibly detailed scenes. The front of the box was filled with houses, shapes and people. The back was green and peaceful, with a castle on a hill, a queen in a long blue gown, and a flying dragon. One of the short sides had a coastline with golden sand, and the other side was mostly forest, with lacy ferns and shadows that could have hidden tigers and other beasts.
There were rules about how to play the music box on a yellowed slip of paper stuck to the bottom of the box just above the key that wound it. "Turn the key three times only. Never turn the key while the music is playing. Never pick up the box while the music is playing. Never close the lid until the music has stopped."
Leo followed the rules. It was Mimi who wound the key four times, and made the butterflies appear. But, at her urging, it was Leo who turned the key six times, and opened the door between the music box world of Rondo and Leo's own world widely enough to let in not just butterflies, but also the woman in the blue gown. She was a sorceress, who told them some of the secrets of the box, and when she was swept back into her own world, she took Mimi's dog, Mutt, with her. When the music was over, and Leo closed the lid, the woman in the blue dress now held a tousled, mustard-colored dog. Mimi knew she had to get her dog back, no matter how dangerous it might be, and when Leo tried to stop her, he was sucked into Rondo with her.
Will the two of them be strong enough to overcome the Blue Queen, or will they be stuck in the world of the music box forever?
This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.