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The Spell Book Of Listen Taylor Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 1, 2007

16 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 1, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jaclyn Moriarty grew up in Sydney, Australia, with 4 sisters, 1 brother, 2 dogs, and 12 chickens. She studied law at the University of Sydney, Yale, and Cambridge, and worked as an entertainment lawyer before she wrote the Ashbury High novels, including THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS, THE MURDER OF BINDY MACKENZIE, and THE GHOSTS OF ASHBURY HIGH. She still lives in Sydney, with her little boy, Charlie.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439846781
  • ASIN: B008SMYH4C
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,452,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kate Coombs VINE VOICE on August 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book threw me off a bit. The Spell Book of Listen Taylor begins by focusing on a seventh grader named Listen Taylor, addressing her troubles with her old friends at a new school. Listen finds an odd spell book and the spells might actually work, though Listen seems less informed than readers about the spells' outcomes. (Despite the wonderful cover, this is NOT a fantasy--it's contemporary realism with hints of whimsy and magical realism.) Anyway, I quickly allied myself with Listen as the main character, only to find that she was a member of an ensemble cast--many of whom are adult characters.

The narrative is framed by the Zing Family Secret, which impacts a surprising number of lives. Listen's father's girlfriend Marbie is a Zing, and a large portion of the book is about Marbie, Marbie's sister Fancy, and Fancy's daughter Cassie's second-grade teacher, whose name is Cath. I should note that people cheating on their spouses or boyfriends is a strong thread running through the narrative. It occurs three and a half times in key subplots--the half being an imaginary affair. (The affairs are treated as troubling, but not entirely objectionable.)

Of course, readers will spend much of the book trying to guess the Zing Family Secret; it turns out to be both ordinary and extraordinary when it is finally revealed. Moriarty's characters are likable and the humor is subtly ironic. There are also a number of fresh plot points and details, plus the author has a very appealing voice.

I soon found myself wondering, however, whether this is truly a book for Young Adults. The majority of the book is about the adult characters, which is usually a no-no when writing for children or teens.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on August 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
12-year-old Listen Taylor, whose friends have decided to ditch her at the beginning of junior high, finds a spell book that claims it will mend her broken heart. Her father's girlfriend, Marbie Zing, struggles with her fears of losing her happiness and makes a terrible mistake. Marbie's sister, Fancy, speculates about her marriage as she works with Marbie to maintain their family secret. And Cath, a young teacher, falls for a married co-worker and discovers her life has a lot more to it than she ever suspected.

These four stories intertwine in THE SPELL BOOK OF LISTEN TAYLOR. Jaclyn Moriarty skillfully weaves together the narratives over the course of a school year, drawing the characters closer and closer together, and closer to a climax that is both surprising and inevitable. With each new strand, events that seemed unimportant in one narrative take on new significance. Each character's story adds to the others, creating a bigger picture that is far more satisfying than any one story would have been on its own.

Each of the characters are well-developed in their own right. Teen readers will likely sympathize most with Listen, who must overcome the unspoken rules of popularity and friendships, and Cath, who is young enough to still be uncertain of her place in the world. They may have more trouble relating to Marbie and Cath, who are dealing with issues of settling down and marital satisfaction, subjects which rarely affect teens. However, this also means the book will appeal to adults as well as children, and perhaps give teens a glimpse into the lives of their parents and teachers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erin on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Like another reviewer, I picked up this book because the title and cover caught my interest, which looks like a girl/woman is flying into a window. So I expected a book with quirky characters that meddle in magic of some kind. Not so. There is no magic, at least not of the fantasy kind, and the quirkiness quickly disappeared as the book dealt with more serious issues. I was also shocked that this was advertised as a Young Adult book--it definitely is not a book I would have enjoyed in my teens. As an adult, well, the story was intriguing but it was too slow and too long for what it was. I found myself reading quickly through the sections I enjoyed and then avoiding the book during the sections that fell flat for me, and there were more flat sections than not.

I love Moriarty's writing style--her colorful descriptions are pure sweetness--but I struggle with her books because they maintain a semi-monotonous, disconnected level of emotion from start to finish.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Spacemouse on April 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up on a whim at a bookstore, attracted mostly by the cover and the description, and I am so glad I did. This was probably the most enjoyable new book I've read in months; maybe years. I laughed out loud frequently, and just "had" to show my husband some of the funniest parts. I highly recommend this volume to women with a taste for magical realism and a quirky sense of humor.

Notice, however, that I say "women." As other reviewers have noted, this book centers more on adult characters than on children. Three of five main viewpoint characters are adult women. One is a suburban mother; one is a late-twenties white collar worker; one is a school-teacher. This suggests to me that the book is really intended for 20-30 something women with careers and long-term relationships. In other words, it seems more like chick-lit than YA fiction to me.

I think if you had handed this book to me ten years ago, when I was an undergraduate, I would have enjoyed it, but I wouldn't have "gotten it" the way I do now. I suspect that in another ten years, there will be a new level of enjoyment if I were to pick it up and reread. In the same way, I think older teen girls might like the quirkiness of this book, but I think they'd enjoy it even more in a decade, after more time spent playing the relationship-and-career game (and after reading Foucault, of course, as Leonie Marple-Hedginton would tell us).

P.S. I see from other reviews that this is actually a revision of an adult novel. If so, I hope Moriarty's publisher makes the original available, too!
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