The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle by Deva Fagan
This is a beauiful cover and fits the story perfectly. The artist behind it is Bradon Dorman. I love seeing a kid of color on a middle grade novel. I believe Prunella, mentions her brown skin once. This lone mention makes me appreciate the cover even more, the publishers Henry Holt could have easily pretended they didn't see
"Just the same clear brown skin and snub nose I'd always had. Blast it!."
Instead, they embraced and reinforced it with the cover. So much kudos to Henry Holt.
Prunella Bogthistle wants to be a proper bog -witch. She wants a few well placed warts on her face and the ability to curse like the rest of the Bogthistle's. When Prunella uses magic only good things happen. All bog-witches live in the bottomlands and its filled with magic. Prunella helps Barnaby, an Uplander trespresser, escape one of her grandmother's garden traps. Prunella's grandmother kicks her out. Prunella must prove before she can return.
Barnaby plans to become famous by finding and returning the Mirable Chalice to the Uplander Queen. Prunella joins Barnaby on his quest. She is determined to find Esmeralda's (an infamous bog witch) book of magic. Prunella believes with Esmeralda's grimoire, she will be able to curse properly and be welcomed back home.
On their journey, Prunella and Barnaby find themselves helping Uplanders. Something is out of sorts in each town they pass. Many Uplanders are too sick to get out of bed. Prunella starts to do a few other things that make her question her bog witch ness.
"Now that we were well on our way, walking under a cloudless blue sky through the green meadows, Barnaby had regained his airy cheer. Perhaps a bit too much cheer.
"Do you always whistle?" I asked.
"What's wrong with whistling?"
What was wrong was that his silly little tune made my steps bounce as if I were trotting across billowing clouds. I felt ridiculous. Who ever heard of a bog witch skipping along past meadows full of daisies and cornflowers? I forced my feet into a more appropriate stalking gait."
Prunella isn't bothered by dirt, instead of a hair clip she has a chicken bone. Barnaby does his best to stay clean and loves a good suit. The two are an odd couple playing off of each other very well.
From the beginning its obvious Prunella's has not mastered her magic. Its funny watching her try.
"I tried to slow my hammering heart. I was not going to let myself get riled up by a straggly snot of a boy. "It was supposed to be boils not oils!"
"But if it makes you happy, you did ruin my favorite jacket. "But I'll take that over boils any day."
I loved Prunella she's a misunderstood bog witch who wants to be loved by her grandmother. Fagan's writing is well layered allowing for Prunella's vulnerability. Visually this is a very fun read. Prunella and Barnaby run away from a crocodile in the bottomlands. (the cover). On their misadventure the two discover what's really going on in the Uplands. Barnaby has a story of his own, and its connected to the happenings in the Uplands.
I've read a few books this year that lost me with the ending. Whenever that happens I feel cheated. If a novel is going to turn on me I'd rather it happen in the middle so I can put it down. The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle was the complete opposite of that. The first part was very good though Fagan seemed to give a little more for the second half. This looks to be the first book in a series ( fingers crossed)
Kirkus Review and School Library Journal review via the author's site
Read an excerpt