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I Put a Spell on You: From the Files of Chrissie Woodward, Spelling Bee Detective Hardcover – September 9, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–7—The annual spelling bee at Gordon Liddy Community School is a big deal. The local newspaper and television stations cover it and the whole town shows up. This year, the hoopla is even bigger than usual. There is a new, formerly homeschooled, student in sixth grade who some people fear may win. A student's father broke into the school and attempted to steal the master word list. Tensions are running high. Sixth-grader Chrissie works for the principal, gathering dirt on her classmates, but when information she gathers is used to prevent an innocent student from participating in the bee, she realizes that the administration may be corrupt and she uses her detective skills to get to the bottom of the big buzz. Framed as Chrissie's case notes, interview transcripts, and emails, this funny, light mystery covers the weeks leading up to the competition. The characters are set types—class clown, stressed-out brainiac, bad boy with a heart of gold—but they grow and change by the book's end as the kids try to do the right thing, avoid the adult corruption, and just enjoy the bee. This is a fun, silly read with a casual, conversational tone befitting all the different characters' voices. The hijinks may be wacky, but kids will want to keep reading to find out what happens at the climactic event.—Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT
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“Smart and savvy on all fronts. . . . Full of read-out-loud-to-whoeverhappens- to-be-around passages.”
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385735049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385735049
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,911,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam Selzer is the proud coiner of the immortal phrase "you don't have to be smart to be a smartass, but it helps." He writes humorous books (both fiction and non) for readers of all ages by day and runs ghost tours in Chicago by night. If you can find two cooler jobs than that, take 'em! He is one of those people you hear about on the news who has to choose between paying off student loans and having a health care plan, and occasionally claims to be the third cowboy from the left in the famous "lost thunderbird photo." He is also credited by film historians as having inspired the film "Bedtime for Bonzo," which starred Ronald Reagan and a chimp. People who point out that said movie was released decades before he was born just don't know enough about quantum physics. Adam enjoys standing in long lines for tickets, and hopes to one day travel back in time to wait in line overnight for tickets to see a Charles Dickens reading. See him online at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am a thirteen-year-old girl who received this book for Christmas a few years ago. I was attracted to it because its premise revolves around spelling bees, and having participated in several spelling bees myself, I known about the pressure.

The book takes place in Preston, a small town. It's the kind of town that only has one school, and that school has only one class per grade, so all the kids get to know each other really well. You can tell how small of a town it is when you find out that the biggest event in town is the All-School Spelling Bee at Gordon Liddy Community School. Lots of different people are preparing for the spelling bee, including Jennifer (who, despite only being in sixth grade, has parents that are obsessed with her college application and who wants to be a hippie), Mutual (the strange new kid who tricked his parents into going to school and who is just aching to be corrupted), and Harlan (the class clown). But something's not right, because strange things keep happening, and busybody Chrissie Woodward (the hall monitor) takes it upon herself to figure out what's going on. And let me tell you, it involves LOTS of corruption!

There are several things about this book that are really funny, such as most of the people's parents, some of the things that people in the town do (the spelling bee is so huge that people go to drastic measures), and some of the words that come up (my favorite: floccinaucinihilipilification, which means the act of estimating something to be worthless). I also love how Mutual wishes to be corrupted, and actually ASKS to be corrupted!

Being a nerd and knowing a lot about US history, I noticed another thing about the book.
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