The Magic Misfits: The Second Story
Neil Patrick Harris with Lissy Marlin and Kyle Hilton
I hadn’t read the first The Magic Misfits book so in case you’re in the same situation, it tells how young street musician Carter having been taken in after the disappearance of his parents, by his Sly ‘uncle’ Mike, escapes and ends up becoming friends with other variously talented children who together form The Magic Misfits.
This second story continues right on from the first only the focus now turns to Leila Vernon who lives with her two fathers above Vernon’s Magic Shop.
One day out of the blue, a stranger from Dante’s past appears in the shop. The woman, Sandra Santos, aka Madame Esmerelda, was so she says, a friend of Carter’s father.
What though is she doing in Mineral Wells? Whatever it is, it might be that she knows why Leila was placed in an orphanage and by whom. Could it be that Sandra holds the key to these questions?
Scattered throughout this intriguing pacey tale are riddles and puzzles as well as some magic tricks to try and a liberal sprinkling of black and white illustrations by Lissy Marlin.
Carter, Leila and her friends are well worth getting to know, especially for readers who like their stories sprinkled with magic.
The Littlest Witch
Bianca Pitzorno, illustrated by Mark Beech
The author of this crazy book is considered to be one of Italy’s best childrens’ writers. It’s a tale of a young man, Alfonso Terribile and what happens when his Great Uncle Sempronio dies.
Alfonso is left a fortune but there is a condition: he has to marry a witch and do so within a year and a month or else his fortune will go elsewhere.
There’s a zany cast of characters including the Zep’s seventh daughter, the infant Sibylla who seems to be behaving in a rather strange fashion. Could she perhaps be the one? Maybe, but there are a lot of other possible contenders too, not least being the spirited Wanda …
Greed quickly consumes Alfonso but will he manage to fulfil his uncle’s criteria? That would be telling; let’s just say that he receives his just deserts.
Mark Beech’s line drawings scattered throughout the book add to the delightful quirkiness.
Lavinia and the Magic Ring
Bianca Pitzorno, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Imagine what might happen if you were a little girl and received a ring with a very special power. That is what happens one chilly Christmas Eve, to seven-year-old Lavinia, a modern-day match girl residing in Milan.
Lying in the cold just before midnight dreaming of good things to eat, she’s suddenly awoken by a beautiful lady dressed unsuitably for the cold, asking for a light and professing to be a fairy. Lavinia is nonplussed but agrees and by way of thanks, the witch slips a ring onto her finger, a magic ring that turns things into poo – yes poo!
The girl’s reaction is to try and pull the thing off right away, but the ring is stuck fast.
Now it’s up to Lavinia to use her weird powers judiciously.
There are a lot of decidedly stinky situations in this story so definitely don’t give it to a squeamish child; the rest however will doubtless revel in the ponginess of Lavinia’s mess-making escapades hilariously illustrated by none other than the inimitable Quentin Blake.