Witch Week (The Chrestomanci Series)

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9780006755173: Witch Week (The Chrestomanci Series)

The worlds of Chrestmomanci have limitless possibilities. How, then, does a nine-lived enchanter cope with a place where witchcraft is utterly forbidden, yet where magic still seems to break out like measles -- all over the place! The note said: SOMEONE IN THIS CLASS IS A WITCH. It was written in ordinary blue ballpoint and had appeared between two of the homework books Mr Crossley was marking. Anyone could have written it, but the most awful thing was, the note might be true -- for this was a school for witch-orphans. The last thing Miss Cadwallader, the Headteacher, would want was a visit from the Divisional Inquisitor. Mr Crossley wondered what to do about it!

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Review:

Someone in 6B is a witch. And, in the alternate reality described in Diana Wynne Jones's Witch Week, that's not at all a good thing to be. Jones plunks her readers directly into the life of Larwood House, a school in a present-day England that's a lot like the world we know, except for one major difference: witches are everywhere, and they are ruthlessly hunted by inquisitors. With witty, erudite writing, Jones tells of the adventures of the class of 6B as they set about to discover who among them is a witch. Clearly it's not the popular Simon or the perfect Theresa. Could it be fat Nan or sluggish Charles? Mysterious Nirupam or shifty-eyed Brian? By the climax of the book (which, by the way, involves saving the world), being a witch has become a badge of honor rather than a mark of shame.

Jones skillfully and seamlessly switches from one point of view to another, creating a comic companion piece to Lord of the Flies as she shows with perfect understanding the way children torment each other--and save each other. She neatly interweaves the dramatic plot with knowing descriptions of school life, as when lumpen Nan warily observes the popular girls: "At lessons, she discovered that Theresa and her friends had started a new craze. That was a bad sign. They were always more than usually pleased with themselves at the start of a craze... The craze was white knitting, white and clean and fluffy, which you kept wrapped in a towel so that it would stay clean. The classroom filled with mutters of, 'Two purl, one plain, twist two....'" Witch Week is a hugely entertaining book that doesn't condescendingly beat children over the head with its humane message of acceptance. --Claire Dederer

About the Author:

Diana Wynne Jones spent her childhood in Essex and has been writing fantasy novels for children since 1973. With her unique combination of magic, humour and imagination, she has been enthralling children and adults with her work ever since. She won the Guardian Award in 1977 with Charmed Life, was runner-up for the Children's Book Award in 1981, and was twice runner-up for the Carnegie Medal. She is married with three sons, and lives in Bristol with her husband.

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