Cover image for The shrunken head
The shrunken head
Oliver, Lauren, 1982- , author.
First Edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2015.
Physical Description:
362 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
"Orphans Philippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max must find out who stole a valuable artifact in order to save to save their home, Dumfrey's Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders"--
Reading Level:
Ages 8-12.

760 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.2 10.0 177435.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Being fixed/mended
Clarence Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Clarence Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction New Materials
East Aurora Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction New Materials
East Clinton Branch Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Elma Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Lake Shore Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Series
Lancaster Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Orchard Park Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
City of Tonawanda Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Audubon Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Edgar Award nominee for Best Juvenile Mystery

The book is about, among other things: the strongest boy in the world, a talking cockatoo, a faulty mind reader, a beautiful bearded lady and a nervous magician, an old museum, and a shrunken head.

Blessed with extraordinary abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam, and Thomas have grown up happily in Dumfrey's Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. But when a fourth child, Max, a knife-thrower, joins the group, it sets off an unforgettable chain of events.

When the museum's Amazonian shrunken head is stolen, the four are determined to get it back. But their search leads them to a series of murders and an explosive secret about their pasts.

This sensational new series--a 2016 Edgar nominee for Best Juvenile book and New York Times bestseller--combines the unparalleled storytelling gifts of Lauren Oliver with the rich knowledge of the notorious relics collector H. C. Chester.

What you will find in this book:

A rather attractive bearded lady Several scandalous murders A deliciously disgusting Amazonian shrunken head Four extraordinary children with equally extraordinary abilities A quite loquacious talking bird

What you will NOT find in this book:

An accountant named Seymour A never-ending line at the post office Brussel sprouts (shudder) A lecture on finishing all your homework on time A sweet, gooey story for nice little girls and boys

Learn more about the series online at

Author Notes

Lauren Oliver (born Laura Schechter) was born in New York City in 1982. She received degrees in philosophy and literature from the University of Chicago in 2004. She graduated the MFA program at NYU in 2008. She worked briefly as an editorial assistant and an assistant editor at Razorbill, a division of Penguin Books. She left to become a full-time writer in 2009. Her first novel, Before I Fall, was published in 2010. Her other works include Delirium, Liesl and Po, and Pandemonium. Her title's Panic, Vanishing Girls and The Shrunken Head made The New York Times Best Seller List. She made the Hollywood Reporter's '25 Most Powerful Authors' 2016 list, entering at number 23.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In 1930s New York City, murder and mayhem obsess the children who reside and are performers at Dumfrey's Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. Orphans Pippa (the mentalist), Sam (the overly strong boy), Thomas (the contortionist), and Max (the knife-throwing sharpshooter) get some firsthand experience with chaos when Mr. Dumfrey purchases a cursed shrunken head for the museum. When a smarmy reporter from the Daily Screamer starts writing sensational articles about the shrunken head and the children, the four decide to unravel the mystery behind the curse. Pooling their talents, they track down clues, suspects, and murder weapons while avoiding capture by the head of the local children's home. With a dollop of Lemony Snicket's hyperbole, a blob of J. K. Rowling's take on journalism, and a splotch of sideshow allure, Oliver (The Spindlers, 2012) and Chester have crafted a wildly imaginative, over-the-top tale in this series starter, complete with a bearded lady, a dwarf, a fat lady, a magician, and an alligator boy. The continuous action, compelling mystery, and dark, brooding illustrations make this book impossible to put down. Perfect for kids who feel they're different or those simply after a freakishly good time.--Fredriksen, Jeanne Copyright 2015 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: step right up and don't be shy. You must not-you absolutely cannot!-put this book down." With this bit of honest advertising, so begins this captivating series opener from Oliver (The Spindlers) and Chester (a pseudonym for Oliver's father, author Harold Schechter). A curiosity museum in financial trouble, "the only place on earth where four extraordinary children like Thomas, Sam, Pippa, and Max could fit in," faces bigger problems after a string of accidents and murders are linked to a shrunken head in its collection. Using talents of contortion, strength, mind-reading, and knife-throwing, the four children attempt to save the only home they know, while contending with dangers lurking all over 1930s New York City, from seedy reporters to mad scientists. A quick-paced plot is bolstered by the bonds of friendship these unusual yet endearing children form as they try to solve a mystery greater-and more personal-than they ever expected. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. Author's agent: (for Oliver) Stephen Barbara, Inkwell Management; (for Chester) David Patterson, Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-The Dumfrey's Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders is home to four orphans: Philipa, Sam, Thomas, and the newest addition, Max. Each child possesses an unusual skill, such as Max's knife-throwing routine, which is performed for the audience's amusement. There is an Odditorium where live performances take place and a Hall of Worldwide Wonders where unusual items selected by Mr. Dumfrey, the museum's owner, are on display. An Amazonian shrunken head is the museum's newest acquisition. When the shrunken head is unveiled at a live performance, a member of the audience passes out and later dies, solidifying the skull's reputation of being cursed. When the head is stolen, the four kids are determined to get it back-and solve the mysteries of the related deaths. From the opening sentence, Oliver grabs readers' attention, enveloping them with strong storytelling and rich language. VERDICT The first book in a new series, the various oddities, intrigues, and its quirky cast of characters are sure to captivate and become a new favorite for mystery lovers.-Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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