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About the Author

Diana Wynne Jones (1934-2011) spent her childhood in Essex and began writing fantasy novels for children in the 1970s. With her unique combination of magic, humour and imagination, she enthralled generations of children and adults with her work. 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.


"...a delightful sampler of her originality and imagination, with small unexpected touches." Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times Culture, Children's Book of the Week

"There's a nice helping of magic and some brisk upbeat sentiment in this crisply written story... How the feisty Earwig outwits the pair with her own special skills and the help of Bella Yaga's cat Thomas is deliciously entertaining." Julia Eccleshare, The Guardian



'Wynne Jones is superb, mixing the comical with the magical'
The Times

This funny story updates fairy tale conventions while highlighting Jones's subversive wit and her firm belief that children can control their own lives. Earwig rules the roost at St. Morwald's Home for Children until she is adopted by a witchy woman named Bella Yaga with "one brown eye and one blue one, and a raggety, ribby look to her face." Earwig hopes to learn magic from Bella Yaga, but is trapped in the woman's decrepit house, sharing it with the Mandrake, an impossibly tall and grouchy being. Powerful and evil, Bella Yaga uses Earwig as a second pair of hands for grinding up disgusting things in bowls ("The only thing wrong with magic is that it smells so awful," Earwig quips). The witch and the Mandrake, however, have never before dealt with a determined girl who claims alpha status; Zelinsky's spot art, not all seen by PW, makes it clear that the squinty, pigtailed heroine is not someone to be trifled with. Featuring delightfully odd characters and eccentric magic, this all too brief tale is a fine introduction to the late author's more complex YA novels. Ages 8-12. Agent: Laura Cecil. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Gr 3-5-Earwig is a strong-willed orphan girl who just loves living at St. Morwald's Home for Children where everyone does exactly what Earwig wants. Though she's been told that her real name is Erika Wig, she was actually named Earwig by her mother who was a witch. Time after time, the girl has been able to evade potential foster parents. But one fateful day she is adopted and taken home by a witch where she meets a magical cat and a mysterious person called the Mandrake. Though the witch expects Earwig to do housework and follow instructions, Earwig is not used to being told what to do. Tired of being bullied by the witch, Earwig cleverly finds a way to get revenge. Wanting to avoid further conflict, the witch agrees to teach Earwig how to do magic in exchange for her help around the house. By the end of one year, Earwig has everyone in the witch's house doing exactly what she wants. However, the story ends somewhat abruptly, with some parts of the plot left unresolved. Charlotte Parry reads Diana Wynne Jones's story (Greenwillow, 2012) in a delightful English accent and provides expressive character voices. She brings Earwig to life with a sassy voice, while making the witch sound grouchy and irritated. Cute and imaginative, this book is reminiscent of novels by Roald Dahl and will entertain listeners.-Jenny Ventling, Dayton Metro Library, OH (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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