The Kneebone Boy

Ellen Potter

Feiwel & Friends

Life in a small town can be pretty boring when everyone avoids you like the plague. But after their father unwittingly sends them to stay with an aunt who’s away on holiday, the Hardscrabble children take off on an adventure that begins in the seedy streets of London and ends in a peculiar sea village where legend has it a monstrous creature lives who is half boy and half animal. . . .

In this wickedly dark, unusual, and compelling novel, Ellen Potter masterfully tells the tale of one deliciously strange family and a secret that changes everything.


Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
In which we meet the Hardscrabbles, unearth a triceratops bone, and begin to like Lucia even more
There were three of them. Otto was the oldest, and the oddest. Then there was Lucia, who wished something interesting would happen. Last of all was Max, who always thought he knew better. They lived in a small town in England called Little Tunks. There is no Big Tunks. One Tunks was more than enough for everyone. It was the most uninteresting town imaginable, except for the fact that the Such Fun Chewing Gum factory was on its west end, so that the air almost always smelled of pepp


Praise for The Kneebone Boy

Praise for The Kneebone Boy:
"The three Hardscrabble siblings set out to learn the identity of the title character in Ellen Potter’s gothic mystery The Kneebone Boy. But it’s the trio’s longing to unwrap the truth about their missing mom that sets off a grand adventure full of shadowy characters and hair-raising action.” --Family Fun
“A quirky charmer.” --Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review
"What premise could be more compelling than a gothic mystery set to miniature proportions? Lucia’s narration is witty and conversational, with an appealingly humble self-awareness when needed. Gentle, pensive Otto is completely as expected, but Max turns out to be a bit of a surprise, mostly because Lucia had previously considered him merely an obnoxious know-it-all and is only now noticing his quite useful ability to puzzle things through...Appealing voice, setting, character, a surprise ending, and a touch of sweetness all add up to a delicious read." --BCCB
“Hilarious and heartbreaking, wild and down-to-earth… The combination of fantasy and realism makes a compelling story, and young people will relate easily to the characters’ struggles.” --Booklist

“With a dark, witty absurdity suggestive of Lemony Snicket, Potter (the Olivia Kidney books) draws readers into this compelling mystery-adventure about a missing mother… Often laugh-out-loud funny, this tale quietly solves a deeper mystery: how to heal the hearts of this immensely likable trio.” --Publishers Weekly

"Metafictional flourishes (‘If there are illustrations in this book, I'd prefer that this last part not be shown’) keep us amused and on our toes as Potter tackles some (at book's end) serious topics from a position both gothic-cheeky and compassionate.” --Horn Book Magazine
"This is the kind of book that captures readers at the beginning and keeps them in its thrall all the way through." --Welcome to my Tweendom
"....this book is a winning read.  Fans of The Graveyard Book will enjoy it but so will children who look for adventure and reality.  It is a cross-genre book that fans of both will enjoy despite the fact it is definitely not really a fantasy." --Kids Lit
"As I read through Ellen Potter’s newest book The Kneebone Boy, I found myself repeating in this awestruck manner 'This book is brilliant'.  Both fun and well written and bound behind a spectacular cover." --Kid Lit Frenzy

In the Press

THE KNEEBONE BOY by Ellen PotterKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of THE KNEEBONE BOY . The Hardscrabbles of the English town of Little Tunks—silent Otto, the adventure-seeking Lucia and whip-smart Max—have become accustomed to their shy, rumpled father's absences since their mother's suspicious disappearance.
- Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Ellen Potter

  • Ellen Potter is the author of books including Slob, Pish Posh, and Olivia Kidney. With Anne Mazer she is also the author of Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook. Potter grew up in a high-rise apartment building in New York City’s Upper West Side, where she exercised her early creativity by making up stories about the neighbors she saw on the elevator. When she was 11 years old, she realized all the best books were written for people her age, and so she decided to become a children’s book author. She studied creative writing at Binghamton University, and then worked many different jobs while continuing to write. She was a dog groomer, construction worker, art teacher, and waitress. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, son and a motley assortment of badly behaved animals.
  • Ellen Potter
    Ellen Potter



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The Kneebone Boy

Ellen Potter