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Earwig and the Witch Kindle Edition

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Length: 147 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Only in an unorthodox children’s book does a girl hope that she won’t be chosen by a family and taken away from the orphanage. But then, Earwig isn’t your typical orphan. Although she was never told that her mother was a witch, this resolute, resourceful child does seem to have a mysterious ability to get her own way. Even when cruel Bella Yaga chooses the girl and takes her away to live as her servant, Earwig quickly picks up enough magic to turn the tables on the old witch. Written for a younger audience than most of the magical novels by the late Jones, this early chapter book offers an amusing story in which it takes hard work as well as magic and cleverness to bring about a happy ending. Zelinsky’s expressive drawings, some not seen in final form, perfectly capture the offbeat characters and the droll tone of the text. A refreshing change of pace for young fantasy fans. Grades 2-4. --Carolyn Phelan

Review

“With this enthralling book, Jones proves that she is still at the top of her game.” (Booklist (starred review) )

“[A] joyfully chaotic tale.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review) )

Product Details

  • File Size: 23852 KB
  • Print Length: 147 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0007416857
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; Reprint edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Publication Date: January 31, 2012
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GFQ166
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,763 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards--and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter--her books were filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy. From the very beginning, Diana Wynne Jones's books garnered literary accolades: her novel Dogsbody was a runner-up for the 1975 Carnegie Medal, and Charmed Life won the esteemed Guardian children's fiction prize in 1977. Since then, in addition to being translated into more than twenty languages, her books have earned a wide array of honors--including two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors--and appeared on countless best-of-the-year lists. Her work also found commercial success: in 1992 the BBC adapted her novel Archer's Goon into a six-part miniseries, and her best-selling Howl's Moving Castle was made into an animated film by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki in 2004. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006, and became one of the most financially successful Japanese films in history. The author herself has also been honored with many prestigious awards for the body of her work. She was given the British Fantasy Society's Karl Edward Wagner Award in 1999 for having made a significant impact on fantasy, received a D.Lit from Bristol University in 2006, and won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2007.

Born just outside London in 1934, Diana Wynne Jones had a childhood that was "very vivid and often very distressing"--one that became the fertile ground where her tremendous imagination took root. When the raids of World War II reached London in 1939, the five-year-old girl and her two younger sisters were torn from their suburban life and sent to Wales to live with their grandparents. This was to be the first of many migrations, one of which brought her family to Lane Head, a large manor in the author-populated Lake District and former residence of John Ruskin's secretary, W.G. Collingwood. This time marked an important moment in Diana Wynne Jones's life, where her writing ambitions were magnified by, in her own words, "early marginal contacts with the Great." She confesses to having "offending Arthur Ransome by making a noise on the shore beside his houseboat," erasing a stack of drawings by the late Ruskin himself in order to reuse the paper, and causing Beatrix Potter (who also lived nearby) to complain about her and her sister's behavior. "It struck me," Jones said, "that the Great were remarkably touchy and unpleasant, and I thought I would like to be the same, without the unpleasantness." Prompted by her penny-pinching father's refusal to buy the children any books, Diana Wynne Jones wrote her first novel at age twelve and entertained her sisters with readings of her stories. Those early stories--and much of her future work--were inspired by a limited but crucial foundation of classics: Malory's Morte D'Arthur, The Arabian Nights, and Epics and Romances of the Middle Ages. Fantasy was Jones's passion from the start, despite receiving little support from her often neglectful parents. This passion was fueled further during her tenure at St. Anne's College in Oxford, where lectures by J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis increased her fascination with myth and legend. She married Medievalist John Burrow in 1956; the couple have three sons and six grandchildren.

After a decade of rejections, Diana Wynne Jones's first novel, Changeover, was published in 1970. In 1973, she joined forces with her lifelong literary agent, Laura Cecil, and in the four decades to follow, Diana Wynne Jones wrote prodigiously, sometimes completing three titles in a single year. Along the way she gained a fiercely loyal following; many of her admirers became successful authors themselves, including Newbery Award winners Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman, and Newbery Honor Book author Megan Whalen Turner. A conference dedicated solely to her work was held at the University of West England, Bristol, in 2009. Diana Wynne Jones continued to write during her battle with lung cancer, which ultimately took her life in March 2011. Her last book, Earwig and the Witch, will be published by Greenwillow Books in 2012.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kate Coombs VINE VOICE on February 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Did you watch the movie, Howl's Moving Castle? It was based, of course, on a book by British fantasy writer extraordinaire, Diana Wynne Jones. To the sorrow of many reader fans, Ms. Jones passed away in 2011 after losing her fight with cancer. Earwig and the Witch is, as far as I know, her last book.

Earwig and the Witch is a slim read for younger middle grade readers, but it packs a lot into a few short pages. In fact, I'm guessing you will find yourself wishing for a sequel once you hit the last page. In her signature style, Jones pops magic into a rather ordinary contemporary world. Meet Earwig, a girl who was left at the orphanage as a baby with the following note: "Got the other twelve witches all chasing me. I'll be back for her when I've shook them off. It may take years. Her name is Earwig." The Matron promptly changes the baby's name to Erica, but it turns back to Earwig easily enough.

Earwig's best friend is a timid boy named Custard. Earwig does not want to be adopted, considering she has the whole orphanage running just how she likes it. So she is not pleased when she IS adopted--by a towering man with horns only she can see and a woman with a "raggety, ribby look to her face."

Sure enough, the man is something rather terrifying and the woman is a witch looking for cheap labor. But Earwig managed things nicely in her last home, and now she sets out to get her way in this uncanny new place. It helps that she has an ally. (A close read will reveal glimpses of the Baba Yaga story in the bones of this one.)

The book includes pen-and-ink illustrations by Caldecott winner Paul O. Zelinsky. They are a bit twisty and often show Earwig scowling, but then, she is a witch girl.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Let's pause and bow our heads for a moment. Last year, we lost one of the greatest fantasy authors, Diana Wynne-Jones.

Before she passed away, Jones wrote one last book containing the usual things you would expect: an irrepressible orphan, a witch, spells, a cat, and lots of magical forces. But sadly, "Earwig and the Witch" is not really up to Jones' usual brilliance -- it's a fun book, but it feels like an unfinished draft that ends abruptly, without dealing with all the plot threads.

Earwig (aka Erica Wigg) has spent her whole life in an orphanage, and has no desire to be adopted by anybody. But despite her best efforts, she IS adopted by a mysterious pair -- a witch named Bella Yaga (also a nickname for Bella Swan), and a mysterious horned man called the Mandrake. Bella Yaga only adopted Earwig so she would have unpaid labor.

Soon Earwig decides to make the best of her situation, and learn some of the many strange spells that Bella Yaga is working on. She also has an unexpected new ally: the witch's talking cat, Thomas. With his help, she might be able to master enough magic to make Bella Yaga regret ever treating her like a slave...

"Earwig and the Witch" has that distinct Diana Wynne Jones charm -- talking cats, magic books, suburban witches, overwhelming Britishness and a wicked sense of humor. It also has a bittersweet tang, since this is the last Diana Wynne Jones fantasy novel we'll get (unless they find some hidden manuscripts somewhere).

Earwig is a delightful heroine -- strong-willed, feisty and willing to bide her time so she can mess around with the annoying witch who dragged her away from her old home. It's hinted that there's more to Earwig than meets the eye, but it's never developed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Nichols on May 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Earwig is used to getting her own way. An orphan left on the doorstep of St. Morwald's Home for Children, Earwig knows how to make others do her bidding. At her request the cook prepares her favorite lunch of shepherd's pie, the matron hurries to keep her supplied in red sweaters, and her fellow orphans indulge her in dimly-lit games of hide-and-seek, even the kids who are scared of the dark. Earwig is not among them. "Earwig was never frightened. She had a very strong personality."

This strong personality seems to meet her match when a strange couple visit the orphanage looking to foster a child. Till now Earwig has managed to fend off potential parents. For Earwig has no interest in leaving the orphanage. Why would she? She's got everyone in the joint under her thumb.

The couple choose Earwig, despite her best efforts to look unlovable, and take her home to their bungalow at Thirteen Lime Avenue. From the start, Earwig suspects the couple of being not what they seem. She's right. The "raggety, ribbly" woman in the big red hat is a bona fide witch and the man who has fiery eyes and what appear to be horns growing from his head is you-guessed-it. Earwig is put to work as the witch's assistant and spends her days pounding rat bones into powder and picking nettles from the garden. Her days of getting her own way are apparently over.

Or not. Earwig is a plucky child and she doesn't give in to despair. Refreshingly, she finds the odd situation she's in a challenge and one to be overcome not endured. Determined to learn magic, she pairs up with the witch's familiar, a talking black cat named Thomas, and together the two manage to turn the tables on the couple. By book's end Earwig is once again firmly in the driver's seat. How she gets there makes for a fast, entertaining read.
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