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Wild Robert Hardcover – August 14, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4-Heather dislikes living in a castle. Her parents are curators who spend all day leading tourists through the place, so her summer is filled with noise and crowds. Her boredom ends when she accidentally summons Wild Robert, who lived at Castlemaine 350 years earlier and was banished underground by his brothers because of his mischievous, magical powers. The handsome but naughty young man announces his intention to claim his inheritance, and woe to those who annoy him; he wields his magic with a liberal hand. Heather's commonsense attempts to keep Robert from wreaking havoc while she figures out what, if anything, to tell her parents are entertaining, as are his imperious comments and wicked sense of humor. The ending offers an anticlimactic and unsatisfying solution to the girl's dilemma, but her ability to recognize and admire the touch of sadness and bravery beneath Robert's hauteur adds a bit of depth to the story. The pencil illustrations are mostly successful, though they lack the wit of the text and sometimes seem lackluster. Light and fun, this fantasy is fine for children who aren't old enough for Jones's more complex fare.
Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5. Heather lives with her parents at Castlemaine, an ancient dwelling owned by the British Trust, where her parents give tours to generate the funds necessary to maintain the property. One day, desperate to avoid the constant parade of boring tourists, Heather wishes the return of Wild Robert, (a former resident who was executed 350 years ago for witchcraft), to stir up a little fun. Her wish is granted, and soon Heather is traipsing over the grounds after Robert, trying to restrain the mischievous magician. Luckily it turns out that Robert's spells are only effective during daylight hours, giving Heather (and her parents) a little reprieve. Originally published in Britain in 1989, this amusing fantasy features a likable (and believable) young heroine, broadly painted comic villains, and a fairly straightforward plot that even young fantasy buffs will be able to follow. In addition, many of the original Briticisms still remain, adding to the flavor of the text. A good choice where fantasy is popular, especially for readers who aren't ready to tackle long fantasy tomes. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 7
  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books (August 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060555300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060555306
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,588,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards--and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter--her books were filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy. From the very beginning, Diana Wynne Jones's books garnered literary accolades: her novel Dogsbody was a runner-up for the 1975 Carnegie Medal, and Charmed Life won the esteemed Guardian children's fiction prize in 1977. Since then, in addition to being translated into more than twenty languages, her books have earned a wide array of honors--including two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors--and appeared on countless best-of-the-year lists. Her work also found commercial success: in 1992 the BBC adapted her novel Archer's Goon into a six-part miniseries, and her best-selling Howl's Moving Castle was made into an animated film by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki in 2004. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006, and became one of the most financially successful Japanese films in history. The author herself has also been honored with many prestigious awards for the body of her work. She was given the British Fantasy Society's Karl Edward Wagner Award in 1999 for having made a significant impact on fantasy, received a D.Lit from Bristol University in 2006, and won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2007.

Born just outside London in 1934, Diana Wynne Jones had a childhood that was "very vivid and often very distressing"--one that became the fertile ground where her tremendous imagination took root. When the raids of World War II reached London in 1939, the five-year-old girl and her two younger sisters were torn from their suburban life and sent to Wales to live with their grandparents. This was to be the first of many migrations, one of which brought her family to Lane Head, a large manor in the author-populated Lake District and former residence of John Ruskin's secretary, W.G. Collingwood. This time marked an important moment in Diana Wynne Jones's life, where her writing ambitions were magnified by, in her own words, "early marginal contacts with the Great." She confesses to having "offending Arthur Ransome by making a noise on the shore beside his houseboat," erasing a stack of drawings by the late Ruskin himself in order to reuse the paper, and causing Beatrix Potter (who also lived nearby) to complain about her and her sister's behavior. "It struck me," Jones said, "that the Great were remarkably touchy and unpleasant, and I thought I would like to be the same, without the unpleasantness." Prompted by her penny-pinching father's refusal to buy the children any books, Diana Wynne Jones wrote her first novel at age twelve and entertained her sisters with readings of her stories. Those early stories--and much of her future work--were inspired by a limited but crucial foundation of classics: Malory's Morte D'Arthur, The Arabian Nights, and Epics and Romances of the Middle Ages. Fantasy was Jones's passion from the start, despite receiving little support from her often neglectful parents. This passion was fueled further during her tenure at St. Anne's College in Oxford, where lectures by J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis increased her fascination with myth and legend. She married Medievalist John Burrow in 1956; the couple have three sons and six grandchildren.

After a decade of rejections, Diana Wynne Jones's first novel, Changeover, was published in 1970. In 1973, she joined forces with her lifelong literary agent, Laura Cecil, and in the four decades to follow, Diana Wynne Jones wrote prodigiously, sometimes completing three titles in a single year. Along the way she gained a fiercely loyal following; many of her admirers became successful authors themselves, including Newbery Award winners Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman, and Newbery Honor Book author Megan Whalen Turner. A conference dedicated solely to her work was held at the University of West England, Bristol, in 2009. Diana Wynne Jones continued to write during her battle with lung cancer, which ultimately took her life in March 2011. Her last book, Earwig and the Witch, will be published by Greenwillow Books in 2012.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Most of Diana Wynne-Jones' fantasy adventures are solid, self-enclosed stories all by themselves. "Wild Robert" is a charming, interesting fantasy adventure, but it never quite figures out where to go or what to be. It's an entertaining novella, but not Jones' best.

Heather lives at Castlemaine, where her parents are the curators. But Heather hates the tourists and the lack of privacy. Then one day, she climbs onto an old mound and wishes that the legendary Wild Robert would come help her get rid of the tourists. Then she hears a voice: "Did someone call?"

It turns out that Wild Robert has been trapped in the mound for over three hundred years, because he studied the magic arts. Now he's just as ticked off as Heather is about the tourists -- but unlike Heather, he has no problem using his magic to help drive them away...

Diana Wynne-Jones seems to specialize in stories about the fantastical intruding on everyday people. And "Wild Robert" is one of those books. It's only a short novella (or long short story), but Jones manages to keep the storyline interesting and original (such as the feud of the old paintings).

Jones' customary sense of humor carries the story along, with the background about medieval witchcraft, magic, and the clash with modern-day tourists (who can be pretty obnoxious). The problem is that there isn't much of a plot -- Wild Robert visits, works magic, and weird things happen. At the end of the book, the story is clearly ongoing. Nothing changes, except that Wild Robert is hanging around.

Heather and Wild Robert are the principal characters in this book, and they are the only ones who get much development. Heather is a fairly typical Jones heroine, gutsy and willing to believe the unbelievable.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This story is about a little girl who lives in an old house where her parents are the caretakers and tourguides. One day, while trying to escape a horde of tourists, she accidentally wakes the mischievous ghost of Wild Robert.
This was another great story by an author I truly admire. Read it! The illustrations are great, too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on July 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Wild Robert was a great book filled with mystery, sadness,and joyfull feelings. It is so funny and suspenceful you won't know what to do.I bet you that once youv finised it you will turn the book over and over in your hands saying " Wow ".
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By Jabe Hatch on June 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a big DWJ fan and have been since the first book I picked up of hers, I have more or less read everything she has writen. While I have to admit that this is not the best thing she has ever writen, it is still worth the price of the book and is a quick read.It contains all the quaint and dare I say cute imagery that Diana is characteristically known for. I think my biggest problem with it is that it left me wanted another 50 pages to finish an other wise adorable story.
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