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While visiting and caring for Great-Aunt Maria in Cranbury-on-Sea, Mig and Chris discover that their "helpless" relative has frightening powers. Simultaneous.
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Diana Wynne Jones was raised in the village of Thaxted, in Essex, England. She has been a compulsive storyteller for as long as she can remember enjoying most ardently those tales dealing with witches, hobgoblins, and the like. Ms. Jones lives in Bristol, England, with her husband, a professor of English at Bristol University. They have three sons and two granddaughters. In Her Own Words...
"I decided to be a writer at the age of eight, but I did not receive any encouragement in this ambition until thirty years later. I think this ambition was fired-or perhaps exacerbated is a better word-by early marginal contacts with the Great, when we were evacuated to the English Lakes during the war. The house we were in had belonged to Ruskin's secretary and had also been the home of the children in the books of Arthur Ransome. One day, finding I had no paper to draw on, I stole from the attic a stack of exquisite flower-drawings, almost certainly by Ruskin himself, and proceeded to rub them out. I was punished for this. Soon after, we children offended Arthur Ransome by making a noise on the shore beside his houseboat. He complained. So likewise did Beatrix Potter, who lived nearby. It struck me then that the Great were remarkably touchy and unpleasant (even if, in Ruskin's case, it was posthumous), and I thought I would like to be the same, without the unpleasantness.
"I started writing children's books when we moved to a village in Essex where there were almost no books. The main activities there were hand-weaving, hand-making pottery, and singing madrigals, for none of which I had either taste or talent. So, in intervals between trying to haunt the church and sitting on roofs hoping to learn to fly, I wrote enormous epic adventure stories which I read to my sisters instead of the real books we did not have. This writing was stopped, though, when it was decided I must be coached to go to University. A local philosopher was engaged to teach me Greek and philosophy in exchange for a dollhouse (my family never did things normally), and I eventually got a place at Oxford.
"At this stage, despite attending lectures by J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, I did not expect to be writing fantasy. But that was what I started to write when I was married and had children of my own. It was what they liked best. But small children do not allow you the use of your brain. They used to jump on my feet to stop me thinking. And I had not realized how much I needed to teach myself about writing. I took years to learn, and it was not until my youngest child began school that I was able to produce a book which a publisher did not send straight back.
"As soon as my books began to be published, they started coming true. Fantastic things that I thought I had made up keep happening to me. The most spectacular was Drowned Ammet. The first time I went on a boat after writing that book, an island grew up out of the sea and stranded us. This sort of thing, combined with the fact that I have a travel jinx, means that my life is never dull."
Diana Wynne Jones is the author of many highly praised books for young readers, as well as three plays for children and a novel for adults. She lives in Bristol, England, with her husband, a professor of English at Bristol University. They have three sons.From Kirkus Reviews:
With her usual facility, Jones plunges an ordinary family, in shock from the apparent death of their half-divorced Dad and newly entrapped by the needs of a decrepit great-aunt, into a weird mix of small-town pettiness, magic, and witchcraft, all overlaid with a wryly original look at the war between the sexes. At first, when they arrive to visit her, Aunt Maria seems blameless, but her plaintive disclaimers (``Don't bother to put napkins, dear. It's fun using kitchen cutlery'') soon give way to direct demands without any diminution of the guilt felt by compliant Mum. Young Chris is odd man out from the beginning, but narrator Mig is horrified to find herself a favorite. It's soon evident that Aunt Maria is a sort of evil queen in Cranbury, with a dozen other women in her teatime court and spies behind every lace curtain; the town's other inhabitants are either ``drones'' or ``zombies'' (the men) or ``clones'' (children in a mysterious orphanage). Drawing on a bag of tricks that includes animal transformations, ghost-like emanations, and time travel, Jones builds to a denouement in which several mysteries are unraveled and a sort of anti-Pandora's Box is opened to allow people to assume their full, nonstereotypical potential. Setting the stage takes a bit long here, and the story is neither Jones's wittiest nor her most thought-provoking; still, the plot has that delightful intricacy her fans admire, and its multiplicity of details is remarkably imaginative. (Fiction. 12+) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Greenwillow Books. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0064473589 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.0955977
Book Description Greenwillow Books, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0064473589
Book Description Greenwillow Books, 2003. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0064473589