'The Glass Sentence': The next children's book you'll be hearing about

The debut novel by S.E. Grove has earned almost unanimous critical praise for its originality and the fascinating world in which it takes place.

By , Staff Writer

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    'The Glass Sentence' is by S.E. Grove.
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What would happen if the world was suddenly divided into different time periods – if Massachusetts was about to experience the dawn of the 20th century but Africa was under the sway of the pharaohs?

Readers can find out in S.E. Grove’s new book “The Glass Sentence,” a children’s book that was released on June 12 but is already getting praise from many sources. “Glass,” which is Grove’s debut and the first in a planned trilogy, follows a young girl named Sophia Tims. Her family is full of cartographers who received the experience of a lifetime when the Great Disruption of 1799 occurred and the world’s continents were suddenly separated into different periods of history. Sophia is living in Boston in 1891 with her uncle after the disappearance of her mapmaking parents, but when her uncle also vanishes, she and a boy named Theo must set out on a mission to find him.

“Glass” has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews and was selected for the summer/fall Indies Introduce New Voices list from IndieBound. PW also chose it as one of the best reads of the summer. Book industry giant, now of Amazon, Nancy Pearl said of the book, “I loved it! So imaginative!”

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PW called the book “thrilling.”

“It’s a cracking adventure, and Grove bolsters the action with commentary on xenophobia and government for hire, as well as a fascinating system of map magic,” PW wrote.

Meanwhile, Kirkus Reviews found the book to be “wholly original and marvelous beyond compare.”

“Grove's intelligent and challenging debut is brilliant in concept, breathtaking in scale and stellar in its worldbuilding,” KR wrote.

Wall Street Journal reviewer Meghan Cox Gurdon called the book a “page-turner” and wrote that “the author has a thoughtful, intelligent tone throughout.”

However, School Library Journal called the book “ambitious” and Grove’s world “complex,” but found that “for a first novel, this is particularly engaging, but not without room for improvement.”

“A fluid mixture of magic and science combine with the dramatic setting to bring freshness to a familiar plot arc,” Stephanie Whalen of New York Public Library wrote. “It will appeal to those who enjoy dedicated world-building and new worlds to explore, but it does suffer from some excess padding that may discourage reluctant readers.” 

And “Wicked” author Gregory Maguire, reviewing the book for the New York Times, noted that Grove had a high standard to meet when compared to “His Dark Materials” author Philip Pullman, which was done by “A Conspiracy of Kings” author Megan Whalen Turner.

“Does this admirer pull off something worthwhile of her own?” Maguire wrote. “I’m not sure I know the answer. Still, uncertainty leaves me in a state of quivery receptivity. To examine this first novel for what it does well is rewarding enough, and I suspect good work, even braver and more coherent, lies ahead… The other characters, if novel, are somber and monointentional. The serviceable prose affords little grip or glister except for the wonderful title. Nonetheless, the book is refulgent with nervy invention… Though I got a little lost following the strategies and ambitions of various potentates, factotums, seers and rogues, I am in no doubt about the energy of S. E. Grove as a full-fledged, pathfinding fantasist. “The Glass Sentence” is named “Book 1.” I look forward to the next installment to place upon the pile. Intensely.”

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