Things haven’t been going well between Raven and her father. It seems like he is blowing up at the smallest things, and she has no idea how to manage this. Worse, Raven and her brother, Rudi, have been sent to stay with their grandfather for a month, out in the countryside. That was fun when they were younger, but now? What is there to do in a small town for two young teenagers? And more importantly, are they being kept out of the way while their parents deal with whatever adult things they have to deal with? Raven thinks she knows what might be afoot, but she is keeping that to herself. Rudi, she thinks, probably shouldn’t know about all of that, at least for now. Raven is, after all, the big sister, a role she takes seriously. Most of the time, anyway.
Fiery and impulsive Raven is often getting her younger, more conservative brother Rudi into trouble. And as they drive into town to begin their month-long stay, she spots something which fires her imagination. Who is the new man in town? He is old, and has an army uniform that looks foreign. Is he a spy? Is he a danger?
Rudi knows only one thing: when Raven starts to get a Big Idea, it often spells trouble for him.
But that question may have to wait, at least for a little while. Rudi and Raven have arrived just in time for the town’s annual Harvest Festival. Better yet, it is the 150th anniversary of the founding of the town. A huge party is promised, bigger than either Rudi or Raven have ever seen. Granddad has not been idle; the kids find themselves with all sorts of activities and things to do, in preparation for the big day.
And so, Rudi and Raven begin their month with tasks, and jobs, and things to do, as they are moved around town between the local residents. They meet Big Bob Parkinson, the local mechanic, who needs the extra hands that a young boy can bring. Raven spends time with Mavis Marston, the local antique dealer and owner of The Little Shop of Ways and Means. They meet Jim Foggerton, the Mayor and Postmaster, and Mr. Amos, the owner of the largest general store in town.
In between the carried boxes and the catalogued inventory, amongst cutting steel and delivering to outlying farms, around helping at the local dog kennels and trips to the town clinic, Rudi and Raven start to settle in, though two enormous questions loom: who is the old man, and what is happening between their parents? What does this mean for them?
In this first book of the series, The Organ Grinder’s Monkey explores the pitfalls, the successes, the comedy, and the tragedy, of growing up and trying to make sense of the world around us. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always human, Rudi and Raven learn to peel back the layers in the town, in their relationships, and in their family. In doing so, they may peel back the layers of who they are, and discover something magical underneath.