Once a Witch

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Tamsin comes from a family with magical Talents, but she doesn’t have any herself.  While working in her family’s bookstore, she is asked to help find a lost object, something others in her family do for people.  Tamsin is tired of being overlooked and pretends to be her older and very Talented sister Rowena and takes the job.  She goes to boarding school in New York City, against her family’s recommendations, and finds that the man looking for a unique clock also lives there.  He’s a professor at NYC.  At the same time, a Talented childhood friend reappears into Tamsin’s life and agrees to help her find the clock.  But all is not what it seems in this twisting book filled with romance, magic, and danger.

This book is light and lovely.  It is a refreshing fantasy filled with enough angst and action to move it along briskly.  There is also enough danger to make it difficult to put down, enough mystery to keep the pages turning, and enough romantic tension to keep any romance-lover happy.  MacCullough has created a protagonist who is bright, snarky and very funny.  Tasmin is the brilliant star of the novel even though she feels ordinary and dull.  MacCullough’s light touch keeps the book breezy and a pleasure to read.

Perfect for reading under the covers with a flashlight, this novel is simply a lot of fun to read with its captivating blend of fantasy and romance.  A light and lovely book appropriate for ages 12-14.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.

Also reviewed by A Patchwork of Books.

Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes

Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.

Is that the scent of butter in the air?  No!  It must be a new Mercy Watson book!

Finding that there is a movie called When Pigs Fly playing at the Bijou, the Watsons set out to the movies.  Mercy is pleased to hear that they serve real butter at the Bijou!  On their way, they meet up with many familiar characters from the series who join them:  Eugenia and Baby Lincoln, Stella and Frank.  Once they reach the drive-in, readers will happily recognize more characters, all of whom enter the fray as Mercy disrupts the drive-in as only a butter-loving pig can.

If you are a Mercy Watson fan, you must pick up this latest one.  If you have not yet enjoyed the buttery wonder of Mercy, don’t start with this title.  Head to the first book and enjoy them one by one.  Note: it is impossible to not want to read them by the bucketful, but try to show some restraint and not pig out.  Van Dusen’s illustrations are colorful, lively and wonderfully manic when called for.  His tiny touches of buttery toast behind each page number make for a complete package of a book that one can simply sink into with a joyous sigh.  This world of pigs, butter and fun is one that is always a pleasure to return to and linger in. 

A great read-aloud series that is also great fun.  I highly recommend it for young readers who are heading for chapter books but still enjoy illustrations to break up the text a bit.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.