Things are not right at the Strega-Borgia castle. Signor Luciano Strega-Borgia has been kidnapped. Signora Baci Strega-Borgia is struggling with her spells at the Advanced Witchcraft Institute.
Gliori's (Tell Me What It's Like to Be Big) debut novel merges traditional fantasy with high technology; the result is a bit of a conceptual mish-mash with a tangled plot, enlivened by an eccentric sense of humor. In Scottish castle StregaSchloss, the three Borgia children (12-year-old Titus, 10-year-old Pandora and a 14-month-old girl, Damp) find their family in crisis: their father has disappeared, their heartbrokenmother is busy at witchcraft school and the pet mythical beasts that live in the dungeon are growing restless. When Pandora borrows her mother's magic wand and loses her baby sister in the modem (the technological practicalities are a stretch) the children must rely on a smart-talking spider to rescue Damp from the information superhighway while they also try to save their father from his evil, elephant-nosed brother. Computer-savvy readers will no doubt be frustrated ("What you've failed to grasp, o leggily-challenged one, is that this is virtual travel. Not real travel," says the spider to Pandora, shortly before they actually send themselves, via e-mail, to the nefarious brother's house). Others will wonder why the villain prevents the father from e-mailing the police but allows him to e-mail his family for help. But bathroom humor abounds (dragon diarrhea, a hit-man in a rabbit suit peeing in his outfit) and Gliori's oddball characters are certainly good fun; the book and its two projected sequels may charm audiences despite its flaws. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Knopf Books for Young Readers
April 01, 2002
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori
The Ideal Candidate
From an upstairs window peered three pairs of eyes. The six eyes watched as a plump woman negotiated the moat, apparently unaware of the murderous Tock who dozed in its depths.
"That's the third one this week," observed a voice.
"Fourth, if you count the one that Tock ate for breakfast," said a second voice.
The third pair of eyes blinked. Too young to speak, their owner wondered if this one could change diapers and sing the right kind of lullaby to hush a witch baby to sleep.
Having spotted the sleeping crocodile as she crossed the moat, Mrs. McLachlan climbed the steps, sat heavily on a stone griffin guarding the front door, and gazed around. She rooted in a battered handbag and produced a crumpled newspaper advertisement and a pair of reading glasses. Wedging the glasses on the end of her nose, she re-read:
Energetic nanny/mother's helper urgently required for Titus (12), Pandora (10), and Damp (14 months). The ideal candidate will enjoy a spot of light housework, be well versed in plumbing and veterinary science, have some understanding of cryogenics, and know instinctively how to make french fries that are crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. Hours and salary negotiable.