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Otto and the Flying Twins: The First Book of the Karmidee Hardcover – April 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7–This fantasy is set in the City of Trees, an isolated oasis built long ago by the Karmidee, magical beings that range from widges (who use cats to amplify the power of their spells) to dragons and shape-shifters. When humans found their way to the metropolis through a mountain pass, they gradually seized control and turned its original inhabitants into second-class citizens. Known as Normals, these rulers now make life difficult for the Karmidee. Young Otto belongs to the most Normal of families–or so he thinks until his little twin sisters begin to fly, his grandmother transforms into a unicorn, and his father (a librarian) turns out to be the King of the Karmidee. Still struggling with his family's past and trying to accept the knowledge that he is a "magico," Otto is quickly placed in grave danger. A nasty and powerful Normal named Elfina wants to turn the Karmidee into freak-show entertainers for Outsiders, and it's up to Otto and his new friends to stop her. The amazing oddities and quirks of this world and its residents are described with delicious nonchalance, so that readers will feel right at home, yet be delighted by each new discovery (playground slides that loop around whole city streets, butterflies as big as dogs). The characters are equally surprising and unpredictable, swarming over the more straightforward plot. It doesn't matter; the writing is as fresh and invigorating as the setting. Fans of fantasy and speculative fiction, especially books like Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember (Random, 2003), Suzanne Collins's Gregor the Overlander (Scholastic, 2003), and Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines (HarperCollins, 2003), will love this one as well. And hooray, it's the first in a series.–Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-7. The First Book of the Karmidee takes place in the City of Trees, which has long been isolated from the world by encircling mountains as well as magic. Two peoples live there: the "normal" and the Karmidees, magical folk of all sorts, who experience prejudice and the increasing threat of persecution and exploitation. Otto Hush, who had always thought his family normal, is jolted by several revelations: his father, a mild-mannered librarian, is actually the King of the Karmidees; his prim grandmother is a spell-casting shape-shifter; and his baby sisters can fly. A fast-paced adventure ensues. Fearful at times, yet resolute at heart, Otto makes a sympathetic young hero as he stumbles and romps through a world more dangerous, complex, and intriguing than he had imagined. Haptie adds a bit of social satire with elements such as the Normal Police attempting to round up all "magicos" by searching residences for "Suspicious and Impossible Items of a Non-Respectable Nature." Expect sequels to this inventive first novel by Haptie, a Scottish writer. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Holiday House (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082341826X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823418268
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,723,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book was great! It's about these magic poeple, some people call them Karmidee, some people call them magicos. It's basically about how they get their freedom back from the "normals". There's one type of magicos called "widges", there're some that are really good with animals, there're the "carpetflyers", and there are the few people that can fly without anything, and there was another kind called "dammerung". I liked how there was a lot of magic. (From the 8 year old).

It was really cool. The carpetflyers were my favorite thing. It was too good. My second favorite were "the widges". Thanks Charlotte Haptie for writing it. We are anxiously waiting for the next book! (From the 6 year old).

We just finished this book and immediately went to the computer to find out if the next one was out yet! (From the dad).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kotori on February 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In a private corner of the world the Karmidee have created a haven; The City of Trees. Built to accomodate all Karmidee (the four footed, the horned, the scaled & beclawed) this mystic city is their birthright.

However, with humans among them, the magically gifted Karmidee have been usurped from their city and forced into poverty stricken encampments along the mud banks of the swamps.

Now run by an increasingly hysterical government, "Normality" is the mantra, the rule and the goal.

Things begin to look personally ominous for the Hush family when twins Hepzibah and (the delightfully named) Zeborah manifest their particular 'magico' talent of flying. They fly, they soar, they dribble and swim through the sky. Babysitters beware.

The city is in peril, the family are being persecuted and Otto might be the closest thing the Karmidee have to a Prince!

In a deft departure from the norm, not all is left in the hands of Otto and his friends. This isn't an instance of only children can save the day - instead, his parents, and friends all have roles to divert destiny. Even the villians have excellent motivations, and the comeuppances are suitable.

Imaginative & humorous, what a fantastic addition to the ranks of young adult fiction this book is.

Fans of Garth Nix seventh tower series will find a lot to enjoy here. Also recommended for Diana Wynne Jones fans.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sarah's Picks on December 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Haptie's debut novel introduces yet another magical place to the world of literature, but the City of Trees never seems to bring to mind images of Hogwarts or Narnia. With this story, an entirely different and exciting world is created; a place where a laundromat is run by a dragon, where children fly on carpets, and where trees play an important role. Haptie's wording is simple and concise, and her details illuminating and clear. Her magical people, the Karmidee, are very fresh- there are no witches and wizards, only widges, dammerung, lamp-eyes, artists, and so on. These people have become outcasts in their own City, overrun by the Normals who lack imagination and bring only destruction. With her story of love and hope, the author also has underlying themes of discrimination and senseless prejudice. I was completely enthralled by this new world and the lovable hero, Otto, who is not entirely good or entirely bad; he is just a young boy hoping to save his family and friends. This is a beautiful story, and has quickly become one of my favorites.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jacquelyn Geist on February 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! It was a familiar story, but magically written and completely suitable for a young reader. I've had a hard time finding modern books for my 6-year-old that are challenging and interesting enough for her to read without being too scary. The really short chapters are a bonus for her, too. We're looking forward to reading the sequel and hope to find more books like this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In Charlotte Haptie's Otto And The Flying Twins, humans have changed the magic world of the City of Trees and taken away its magic: magical folk must hide as a result. Otto has no magic in him and needn't worry; but when his twin sisters begin to fly, their family lives change. Suddenly Otto finds himself fighting the forces who would squelch magic in the world in this unusual story.
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