Clover Twig and the Incredible Flying Cottage by Kaye Umansky

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Clover Twig and the Incredible Flying Cottage by Kaye Umansky
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Genre: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Zoe Page
Reviewed by Zoe Page
Summary: A lovely tale of a young girl who goes to work for a witch and gets a lot more than she bargained for. Perfect for juniors who like reading on their own, or sharing the odd chapter (or 3) at bedtime.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: April 2008
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747590637

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Clover Twig has spent the whole of her 10 years living quite happily in a village, but with a father who drinks, and 4 siblings mouths to feed, money is quite tight at home. Thats when she comes across the sign on the village notice board:


Six whole pennies a week, plus room and board too? Its far too good of an offer for Clover to pass up. Ignoring the little voice in her head (and the large concerns of her family) she presents herself at the cottage and quickly nabs the job. And as long as she can manage to suppress her concerns (Mrs Eckles is probably a witch, the gate to the cottage rudely talks back to visitors, and the cottage itself can, um, fly), that's where she plans to stay for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, in all good fantasy tales of witchcraft and wizardry, things rarely go as smoothly as planned. Mrs Eckles, it turns out, is a witch, but a nice, friendly good witch, so that's ok. Her evil sister Mesmeranza, on the other hand, uses her powers for bad spells, and always has some cunning or not-so-cunning plan on the go. What Mesmeranza wants, Mesmeranza tends to get, and unfortunately what she's currently got her sights on is the very cottage in the woods that Clover has just moved in to. Will Clover aided and/or hindered by the rather inept Wilf be able to stop her, when she launches an attack? Now luckily for us, Clover is a rather bright 10 year old who can out smart some of the cleverest people in the village, but surely she can't hold off a fully-fledged evil witch, with no special powers or gadgets of her own?

Reading this book, my first thought was that it was a brilliant mix of Heggety Haggety meets The Wishing Chair. The writing is certainly reminiscent of Enid Blyton, with some great descriptions and healthy characters. The writing is not difficult (and there are only a smattering of dubiously spelt parts like the extract above) and there are lots of pictures included to break up the text and, at parts, to continue the story.

It's an easy book because there are not too many twists or turns, and you know from the start who is good, who is questionable and who you definitely have to boo and hiss at. However its not a babyish book, helped by the various themes which emerge – good versus evil, for example, which can be interpreted on many levels depending on the age and ability of the reader. Readers will also the love the brilliant names of the characters and the local villages, and the funny characters and silly stories, like the humongous gaoler and his unrequited love for a sniffly, skinny woman. The magic is straight-forward to a certain degree, and therefore appealing to children who would also wish, if given free reign of a magic kingdom, for the chance to become invisible, or to fly, or to change the weather on a whim.

Fans of this genre might also enjoy tales of the Worst Witch while younger readers might prefer the escapades of the students at Charm Hall

Thank you to the publishers for supplying this book.

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