Horn Book Guide Reviews

Take a wealthy, sheltered young man, add two conniving uncles with a murderous plot, a convalescent home full of eccentric characters, and four comatose patients (including a pet chicken), and you have the recipe for a rollicking screwball-comedy of a story. Beginning with ""once upon a time,"" and ending ""as happily ever after as real life will allow,"" the imaginative novel incorporates nonmagical fairy-tale elements and down-to-earth details. Copyright 1999 Horn Book Guide Reviews

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Take a wealthy, sheltered young man, add two conniving uncles with a murderous plot, a convalescent home full of eccentric characters, and four comatose patients (including a pet chicken), and you have the recipe for a rollicking screwball-comedy of a story. Sandy, who has led a carefree life on his family's secluded estate, suddenly has to protect his parents, the butler's wife, and Attila (the chicken) from further attempts on their lives after his uncles manage to poison the four of them with a birthday cake. While the butler experiments with concoctions designed to wake the sleepers, Sandy spends his days next door with the residents of Walnut Manor so that he can be near his family should they awake. Of course, there are other attrac-tions as well-mainly Sunnie, the sleepers' nurse, whose cheerful disposition gradually revitalizes Walnut Manor's complacent patients and staff. Some of the characters are two-dimensional, but their idiosyncracies make them memorable. Sandy, on the other hand, is refreshingly nor-mal. His emotional responses and internal struggles will ring true with teenagers who are coming of age in a time of turmoil. Beginning with "once upon a time," and ending "as happily ever after as real life will allow," the imaginative novel incor-porates nonmagical fairy-tale elements and down-to-earth details. anne st. john Copyright 1999 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Resembling a Frank Capra or Preston Sturges movie in plot and tone, this fabulistic story from Ferris has an unconventional style and offbeat sense of humor that will delight readers or exhaust them, depending on their tolerance for screwball comedies. Wealthy Horatio Alger Huntington-Ackerman's two money-hungry brothers poison his birthday cake, with the intention of wiping out his entire family so they can inherit the riches. Instead, Horatio, wife Mousey, the butler Bentley's wife, Flossie, and a pet chicken end up in comas. Horatio's son Sandy and Bentley set out to nail the evil duo, and to revive their loved ones; the plot thickens when Sandy meets Sunny, a chatty nurse and love-interest, and they interact with his neighbors--the ``inmates'' of Walnut Manor, a home for the ``distressed.'' A financial subplot and a muddle of characters, defined by their eccentricities, clog the pacing of this throwback, but when the various subplots converge and the happy endings commence, the wrap-up is resounding. (Fiction. 12-14) Copyright 1998 Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this modern-day farce featuring a cast of offbeat characters and some punchy dialogue, Ferris (Invincible Summer; Looking for Home) shows how peace inside a man-made utopia is disrupted by outside jealousy and greed; but the plot will have more appeal for adults than children. Horatio Alger Huntington-Ackerman (one of the 10 richest men in the world) escapes the "rat race" of the city with wife "Mousey," son Sandy, trusty valet Bentley and Bentley's wife, Flossie, to a blissful existence on a remote country estate. There Horatio's two brothers attempt to murder the whole household with a poisoned birthday cake, in order to inherit his fortune. The cake puts Horatio, Mousey and Flossie in a coma, and Sandy and Bentley (who did not partake in dessert that night) move them to next-door Walnut Manor not your ordinary convalescent home. Eight other patients (who, coincidentally, also have been mistreated by cruel family members), with the help of Sunny (a nurse whose demeanor is as bright as her name), join forces with Sandy and Bentley to find a cure for their loved ones' malady and punish the responsible parties. The villains do get what they deserve and the good guys end up with love, happiness and increased riches. However, Sandy's accelerated growth from a baby in the nursery to an adult smitten with Sunny (in the space of a chapter) early on in the novel leaves young readers little to identify with. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7 Up-Horatio Alger Huntington-Ackerman, self-made inventor and multimillionaire, marries bit-part actress Mousey Malone and together they have a child, Alexander (Sandy). Life is so perfect that they withdraw from the world into an eccentric existence at their lavish estate, Eclipse. The young man and his parents become the target of vicious plots by Sandy's bungling uncles who want to take all their money. When the evil brothers's poisonous birthday cake puts his parents, servant, and pet chicken, Attila the hen, into a coma, Sandy and the butler, along with the ever-radiant and optimistic nurse, Sunnie Stone, move the sleepers next door to Walnut Manor, a high-class "looney bin" for supposed crackpots no longer wanted by their families. After Sandy becomes infatuated with Sunnie, he realizes what his previous life lacked. The residents become a family and Sunnie proves that they're not wackos, but rather misunderstood and unappreciated. Love and caring cure all. The butler finds a potion to wake the sleepers, and the uncles are thrown in jail after a bungled arson attempt. Weddings and engagements fill the end of this happily ever after tale. Like a British farce without the off-color humor, this book is intentionally melodramatic, coincidental, improbable, and hilarious. The restrained, tongue-in-cheek tone heightens the humor of this spoof. Lots of silly fun and a warm, feel-good feeling await readers.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews

Horatio Alger Huntington-Ackerman is a very wealthy and shrewd businessman, who unfortunately (or fortunately) yearns for the happiness he believes he can find in simplicity. Horatio meets his dream girl, and together they build their isolatedmansion next door to a "loony bin." Their son, Alexander (Sandy), grows up in this utopia unprepared for the malicious acts of his money-grubbing uncles. Sandy's reality begins with a poison-spiked birthday cake that puts all but Sandy and the butlerinto comas, even the family's pet chicken. The family is forced (uncles again) to move the comatose loved ones next door to the bizarre Walnut Manor. The facility is inhabited by very high-class crazies but has so little money that one teeteringdoctor and singular chain-smoking Amazon janitor run the place. The devotion of the Huntington-Ackerman family rubs off on the patients, and the inmates' real-life experiences awaken Sandy. In the end, love does conquer all. Dripping with charm but never cloying, Love Among the Walnuts is at its core a deeply satisfying and hilarious love story. Characters who ignore or scoff at the family's affection are proven utter fools. Unfortunately, the strictly idyllic lifestyleis inevitably exposed as impossible and not mentally healthy. Sandy does eventually make excursions into the city, but returns to his home for perspective...or vice versa. This is a fabulous book with lots of lessons about our sickeningly fast-paced'90s lifestyles. Many readers will hug this book.-Elaine McGuire. Copyright 1999 Voya Reviews