From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—On the day she was born, Margaret Magpie Gabbard was given a legacy from her grandpa-a cussedness to carry on the fight against the no-good Sizemore clan forever-and a prophecy, by the Moon herself, to rise above the fighting, put her cussedness to good use, and "save us all." Thirteen years later, on October 2, 1872, Magpie calls upon her "magical birthday sparkles" to aid her travels "down-mountain," from eastern Kentucky into Tennessee to return her brother's foot. This puts the prophecy into outrageous motion. Big Mama had chained Milo's ankle to keep him from leaving, so he chopped off his foot when God came to get him. Now Maggie must return the foot so he can get out of Purgatory and be on his way to High Jerusalem (heaven). Each rollicking adventure gets more preposterous than the last as Magpie encounters the Cob Hollow Goblins who buried the Moon, a floating Head who holds a special key in his mouth, and a magical boar that can travel through time. Keehn captures Appalachian colloquialisms and language to perfection while maintaining an action-packed, rip-snorting, hilarious pace that never lets readers go. The feisty heroine brings together the two rival clans and saves the Moon, and brother Milo gets to "walk through the pearly gates" on two feet in this well-connected rambunctious celebration of the tall tale. An original that just might be even more entertaining when read aloud.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH
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Keehn, who wrote Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen
(2005), offers an original tale featuring Magpie Gabbard, a Kentucky mountain lass who is called upon to save the world shortly after her thirteenth birthday. At the story's beginning, Magpie tells readers that she hopes to find her brother and return his chopped-off foot. But soon Magpie learns that she must free the buried moon, which has been captured by Goblins and trapped on earth. From Granny's prophesying kettle to a severed (but still conversing) head trapped in a well, the story is full of magical elements. Readers may grow impatient with the many early references to the brother's foot, which goes unexplained too long. Those who persevere, however, will find themselves charmed by the novel's tall-tale tone and rooting for Magpie in her ultimate quest. Drawing on elements of British folklore consistent with Appalachian heritage, Keehn writes an original, down-home American fantasy about a girl with the gumption to fulfill a prophecy. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved