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Grade 3–6—Isabelle Bean has no friends since her classmates consider her weird and even scary. She prefers thrift shops to the mall and dresses in whatever she feels like at the moment. One day, sitting in class concentrating on a strange buzzing sound, she is sent to the principal's office for not paying attention. She opens the door to a supply closet and is plunged into a fairy-talelike world in an alternate universe. She encounters children traveling to the "camps" to avoid being eaten by the Witch of the Woods and meets Hen, and they set out on their own in the opposite direction. Arriving at a cozy cottage, the girls are welcomed by Grete, an elderly woman who uses plants to heal. Isabelle learns that Grete is her grandmother and that she may be the "witch" the people have been taught to fear. Armed with only her determination and intuitive nature, Isabelle marches off to the camps to dispel the rumor of the witch. It is here the plot thickens as Dowell offers twists, turns, and a tragic near-death. Throughout the book she addresses readers directly as though she is telling the story to them. Isabelle's adventures come to a satisfying conclusion as she "falls out" of her school closet a little wiser and maybe a bit more likely to make a friend, and she reminds readers to just believe that "the doors are out there. Don't be afraid to turn the knob."—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Feeling like a changeling in her own world, sixth-grader Isabelle Bean falls into another, where she meets her healer grandmother, Grete, and corrects a misunderstanding that had terrorized generations of children. Although it uses traditional tropes and the faintly medieval setting of much of children’s fantasy, this perfectly paced story has enough realistic elements to appeal even to nonfantasy readers. The plot centers on Isabelle’s efforts to convince the other world’s children that her grandmother is not a wicked witch. This task is complicated but ultimately accomplished by Grete’s accidental poisoning at the hands of a small boy. The storyteller’s voice is evidenced by the opening line (“On the morning this story begins”) and occasionally interrupts the narrative with explanation and rumination. The decidedly opinionated narrator’s privileged stance lends a sense of directness and immediacy to the telling, and the adult perspective allows for more complex language and deeper understanding. Dreamy and distractible, Isabelle is an appealing protagonist whose newfound gift for hearing calls for help reflects how she has grown up enough to see beyond herself. Like Isabelle, her story has that “barely visible edge of otherworldliness” that gives it power. Grades 4-7. --Kathleen IsaacsSee all Editorial Reviews
Very cool girl finding grandmother story. And she finds her by falling into a closet. Into a different world where the gram is thought to be a witch. Great fun readPublished 12 months ago by Aunt Deb
she is eleven now, and i thought i had lost her. the video games were only for her friends, as were the secret thoughts that pre-teens have. Read morePublished on March 16, 2013 by marti forkner-vernon
This is the best book I have ever read and elementary school students this is the best ar Brooke everPublished on February 4, 2013 by Kelsie Vicknair
This story was great a real page turner too I loved the way it was put together and the suspense.Published on January 30, 2013 by Tim Clarke
I never got to read the book because each copy had some duplicate pages and other pages missing. Get a different bindingPublished on January 18, 2013 by Katherine L. Bourne
I downloaded this book after reading several great reviews - and while it's pitched at 8-12 year olds, believe me, this 61-year-old found it enchanting. Read morePublished on January 6, 2013 by Janis Ian
this is a nice book,not the best I ever read,not the worst.I wouldnt reccoment for anyone under 10.it is very suspensful tooPublished on October 7, 2012 by panda lover 21
This was a cute children's story. I have been reading a lot of children's stories lately for whatever reason. I hope that children actually read this and enjoy it too. Read morePublished on September 7, 2012 by Amanda N. Carpenter
by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
April 2012 (paperback edition)
Mesmerizing, memorable, magnificent,... Read more