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Witch Week (The Chrestomanci Series, Book 3) Paperback – 7 Mar 2005
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“…Her hallmarks include laugh-aloud humour, plenty of magic and imaginative array of alternate worlds. Yet, at the same time, a great seriousness is present in all of her novels, a sense of urgency that links Jones’s most outrageous plots to her readers’ hopes and fears…”
From the Back Cover
The worlds of Chrestmomanci have limitless possibilities. Here is a world where witchcraft is utterly forbidden, yet where magic still seems to break out like measles – all over the place!
When a note, written in ordinary blue ballpoint, appears between two of the homework books Mr Crossley is marking, he is very upset. It says:
SOMEONE IN THIS CLASS IS A WITCH
Anyone could have written it, but the most awful thing is, the note might be true for Larwood House is a school for witch-orphans! And the last thing Mr Crossley needs is a visit from the Divisional Inquisitor…
Only Chrestomanci can sort out the trouble that lies ahead!--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition. See all Product description
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The best thing about this wonderful book are the characters, who Jones brings to life brilliantly. I once worked with someone exactly like the smug and self-satisfied Simon Silverson, and so read the 'Simon Says' spell section with considerable pleasure. Other great characters include Brian Wentworth the small, perky, bright and annoying deputy head's son, Daniel Smith the slow-thinking bully, Theresa the self-righteous 'class leader' with her gaggle of friends, the chatty but actually very intelligent Estelle, Charles the outcast (who begins a diary every day with the words 'I got up' meaning 'I hate this school' - on his bad days he writes things like I got up I got up I GOT UP!), the thoughtful and silent Nirupam and Nan, the orphan girl who finds that witchcraft gives her a whole new identity. The teachers are wonderfully observed too, from the harrowed Mr Wentworth to the smug, ultra-polite headmistress (I had a headmistress just like this at school!), the rather weak geography teacher and the manipulative drama teacher. I've rarely laughed so much as in some of the school scenes. Around this wonderful cast Jones weaves a very convincing and very exciting plot - by the end, you're turning pages frantically to find out what will happen. The end requires careful reading, and I guess might not convince everyone, but I felt it worked very well.
A superb read - Diana Wynne Jones on top form!
One of the things I love most about these books is that Wynne Jones doesn’t underestimate how much children understand. There is a whole lot within the story that is implied, rather than spelt out. Mr Wentworth’s fractured relationship with his son, Brian; Charles’ constant black fury and Nan’s desperate yearning to be good at something – even if it is riding around the bathroom on a frisky broomstick tired of being cooped up in the groundsman’s shed.
Although there are shafts of humour, life at Larwood House is no Mallory Towers. The children are divided into cliques, or mercilessly picked upon if they stand out – like Nan and Brian. While the class leaders, Simon and Theresa, spend most of their time mocking their less fortunate peers.
My granddaughter strongly connected with poor Nan Pilgrim, who takes comfort in being descended from the infamous Dulcinea Wilkes, but to be honest, none of the children are particularly pleasant, apart from Estelle. And this is one of the reasons why Wynne Jones is such a clever writer – their surly/victimised attitudes didn’t stop both of us really caring what happens to them,or poor harrowed Mr Wentworth.
And before the end, Wynne Jones throws in a fair dollop of chaotic chicanery into the mix that had the pair of us spluttering with laughter as I was reading. Another gem of a book that continues to inspire Frankie to go on battling through her severe dyslexia to become an independent reader. Another book that has given us yet another tranche of shared golden memories. If you have a youngster in your life old enough for the earlier Harry Potter tales, but perhaps not quite ready for the bleakness of the later books – track down the Crestomanci series. They deserve to be far better known…
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