Whispering to Witches
by Dale, Anna

After hopping aboard a bewitched broomstick that takes him to the home of a witch-in-training named Twiggy, Joe finds himself involved in an unbelievable quest when he goes along with Twiggy and the witches of England as they try to track down a missing page from the greatest magic book in history. Reprint.

Anna Dale lives in Southampton, England, where she works part-time as a bookseller. This is her first book.

Gr. 4-6. On his way to Canterbury to spend the Christmas holidays with his mother and stepfather, Joe Binks becomes entangled with Twiggy, a novice member of the Dead-nettle coven of witches, and learns that the original copy of Mabel's Book (of potions and spells) has been stolen from the National Museum of Witchcraft. Their task is to recover it before a witch named Logan Dritch manages to cast a diabolical spell. Joe is not a witch, but Twiggy's spells help defeat Logan and her evil twin, Lydia, a frumpy, sensibly dressed librarian. Dale's first novel, set in an English countryside where magic coexists with reality, brims with local color and Briticisms. For the most part, characters ring true, although the knife-wielding librarian turns out to be creepier than any of the witches. Tightly plotted and with enough twists and turns to keep readers on their toes, this will satisfy Harry Potter fans in need of a fantasy fix. ((Reviewed November 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Joe Binks is not born a witch, but the "insignificant schoolboy" manages to end up in a coven anyway. It's his father's fault, really, for sending him off at the last minute to his mother's house for Christmas. On the unpleasantly eventful train trip from London to Canterbury, Joe finds himself embroiled in a treacherous plot involving a glamorous, crimson-lipped woman with a basket of glowing-eyed creatures and with a mysterious viper doodled on his suitcase. Add a terrifying ride through the countryside on a large orange bewitched tricycle, a headlong plunge into the aforementioned coven, a blossoming friendship with a young witch-in-training named Twiggy, and the troubling mystery of the missing, potentially-perilous-if-located page 513 in the revered witch manual Mabel's Book, and the ingredients for an action adventure are complete. Plenty of potions (Lingo Liquorice for talking to animals!) and plot twists keep the story buoyant, and abundant acts of selfless bravery contribute a sweet, uplifting quality that distinguishes this lightning-quick broomstick ride, British-style. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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