Thursday, October 07, 2010

Medieval and Modern

Walsh, Pat. The Crowfield Curse.

First saw mentioned by Mr. Elzey at The Excelsior File.

Will is collecting firewood when he hears an injured creature and rushes to the aid of a hob. While frightened, he knows if he does not rescue it, the small, furry creature will die, so he takes it back to a sympathetic monk at the abbey where he has lived since the death of his family in a mill fire. The hob survives and becomes instrumental in figuring out the mystery of a strange man who comes to live at the abbey: Jacobus Bone, a leper, arrives with his strange, henchman Shadlok, and an overwhelming curiosity about the abbey's biggest secret. Because will has magical abilities, he is chosen to help the two find where an angel is buried, but Will is not entirely sure is going to use this discovery for good or ill. The ending sets up an almost certain sequel; unfortunately, the URL for the author does not work.

Strengths: This drew me in right from the very beginning, with Will's compassion. I wanted to know what happened to him and the hob. Also, Ms. Walsh's writing was described as "effortless" over at My Favourite Books, and it was deliciously easy to read, sort of like sinking into a warm bath. Not that the story was easy, but the sense of place was so clear, and the magic felt perfectly normal. Even though it's not really anything like Joseph Delaney's The Last Apprentice series, readers who like that will enjoy this one.

Weaknesses: There were some historical references that many readers will not understand that could have been better explained, but there is a helpful glossary in the back.

I thought this had been nominated for the Cybils Award, but it hasn't.

Dougherty, Brandi. Miss Fortune.

After spending the day at the fair, Mia and Zoe are approached by a strange woman to have their fortunes told. While Mia is interested, Zoe is rather rude to the woman, who gives her a bad fortune as well as a creepy snake head amulet. Over the next few days, bad things occur-- Zoe has an accident on her bike, a fire starts in the oven even though it's not turned on, and a mean e mail is sent to the boy she likes from her account. After this boy recieves a ton of calls from her cell phone and the bad things don't stop, she and Mia investigate the curse, find a spell to remove it, and set off to find the woman who bestowed it so life can get back to normal before 7th grade starts!

This Scholastic title is part of the new Poison Apple series, a take off on this company's Candy Apple series, which is very popular among my 6th graders. These series has been heavily promoted in girls' magazines and Scholastic flyers,


  1. I haven't read it myself, so I can't nominate it, but I really hope someone does, because of wanting to read it badly! (inasmuch as "what gets nominated" is synonymous with "what I will be reading in my role as Cybils Panelist")

  2. I hadn't read your review before I started reading Crowfield, and had the same sinking feeling that it hadn't been nominated. Of course now it has, and I'm glad it was--I liked a lot of the same things about it as you did, namely Will's compassion for the Hob, and the sense of place.