The Tower at the End of Time / Diary of an Accidental Witch: Flying High

The Tower at the End of Time
Amy Sparkes
Walker Books

Reformed pickpocket Nine, Eric the troll, wizard Flabbergast et al return for a second wonderful adventure that again mixes wit, magic, some nail-biting moments and occasional chaos.

Now the curse on the magical house has been lifted allowing the friends to travel between worlds, their first destination being The Wizarding Hopscotch Championship. It’s particularly important that Flabbergast attends the championships – he’s missed three years already and his worthiness is at stake. Moreover, the final prize for winning the event is a visit to The Tower at the End of Time, where one question can be asked!

There’s a problem though, for the house, being nervous about travelling again, is beset by an attack of the hiccups, which unsurprisingly upsets plans somewhat as with each HIC they bounce from one world to another till they finally reach those championships. More problems ensue when Flabbergast discovers that the hopscotch grid is aflame and he encounters many obstacles thereon, but negotiating it is the only way he can get the answer to his question.

In the end everything becomes a race against time, or rather gigantic sand-timers, with every contestant desperate to find an answer to their particular question. And what about Nine? She too has questions concerning who she really is and who left her that music box she treasures so much.

Hugely inventive and sparkling with excitement: primary readers with a penchant for high octane fantasy will jump at the chance to read this.

Diary of an Accidental Witch: Flying High
Perdita & Honor Cargill, illustrated by Kate Saunders
Little Tiger (Stripes Publishing)

With her first diary safely hidden away and her first half term at the School of Extraordinary under her belt, Bea Black starts a new one for this second book.
At home she’s still struggling to give sufficient time to her neighbour and close friend Ash who goes to an ordinary school..

With the Winter Solstice fast approaching, the main topic of conversation after the break is the forthcoming Grand Tournament and Bea finds herself a vice-sports captain. With the Go matches coming up, it’s even more important that she polishes up her broomstick skills. And then following a to do involving buns in town, headteacher Ms Sparks announces that in the hope of improving relations between the two schools, she is inviting the pupils from the Academy to participate in the Grand Tournament and that means no magic, no flying and definitely no Go after all. Indeed the event has now been renamed Sports Day.

Can the rift between the two establishments be healed? Then what about that egg or rather Egg, that Professor Age has given her to tend at home?

Honor Cargill’s smashing illustrations are sprinkled throughout and once again this is hugely engaging and lots of fun, with all the pupils having to deal with similar concerns and issues that readers themselves are likely experiencing.

Diary of an Accidental Witch

Diary of an Accidental Witch
Perdita & Honor Cargill, illustrated by Katie Saunders
Little Tiger

There’s a new magical school on the story map and it’s called Little Spellshire School of Extraordinary Arts. Little Spellshire is the sleepy town full of cats and magical children into which Bea Black and her weather scientist Dad have just moved; this book takes the form of eleven-year old Bea’s diary – her first ever.

But it’s a case of izzy fizzy, Dad was so busy and so dizzy that he’s gone and enrolled her not in the ordinary academy but the Extraordinary establishment in the forest intended for young local witches.

Unexpectedly Bea finds herself sitting through all kinds of strange and spellbinding lessons in the company of peculiar classmates

and tasked with homework that entails venturing into the forest in the middle of the night to find skeledrake roots for a potion – now what on earth are they?

Surely it’s not too much to remind her Dad to get her moved into the Academy ASAP.
It’s either that or dig deep and find her inner witch: with the Halloween ball fast approaching it would be useful to discover even the teeniest smidgen of a magical spark.

Then there’s the question of Excalibur

about which I’ll say no more except that the incident is just one of the many magical mishaps and untoward incidents to be found in Bea’s diary that is bound to have readers giggling and wriggling in delight.

However as well as frog minding, persevering with broomstick-riding, levitation, avoiding getting ExSPELLED, being Witch In Charge of Bat Bunting, which requires the cutting of 1200 paper bats, keeping Dad from finding out of what’s really going on, this spellbinding story is concerned with a girl trying her best to fit in at a new school, making the best of a tricky situation and trying her level best to make friends.

Full of heart, this is the first of four stories brewed by the Cargill team, aided and abetted by Katie Saunders who supplies liberal sprinklings of amusing illustrations (including a class photo and a map): an ideal concoction that simply effervesces with humour and heart. Youngsters will definitely be spellbound and eagerly anticipate diary number two; so too, this reviewer.