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|Elizabeth and Zenobia|
Author: Miller, Jessica
When timid Elizabeth's father takes her and her fearless friend, Zenobia, to his family home, Zenobia becomes obsessed with finding a ghost there, and then Elizabeth learns she had an aunt who disappeared from the house years ago.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.90
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 190575
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 5.20
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 71801
Kirkus Reviews (+) (06/15/17)
School Library Journal (08/01/17)
Booklist (+) (08/01/17)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/07/17)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 08/01/2017 *Starred Review* Elizabeth’s best friend Zenobia (others might claim she’s imaginary, but she’s vividly real to Elizabeth) is utterly convinced there’s a ghost at Witheringe House, and she’s determined to use all her divining skills to find it. Elizabeth is terrified at the prospect, but she joins the hunt anyway, especially after mysterious pages of a fairy tale about a magical kingdom of plants appear in a book only at midnight, and she learns about her father’s late sister, Tourmaline, who disappeared from Witheringe House at age seven. Elizabeth and Zenobia’s polar-opposite personalities make the mood pretty playful at the beginning, but debut author Miller keeps the story certifiably eerie, thanks to a creepy gardener, weed-choked hedge maze, and mutating wallpaper in the abandoned nursery. As Elizabeth gets braver and more insistent on finding Tourmaline, Miller amplifies the wondrous-yet-weird elements of Witheringe House until they snowball into ghastly, creeping nightmares. Her spare, evocative language and direct sentences contribute to the suspenseful pacing, particularly toward the end, when the Plant Kingdom gets truly invasive. Comical characters, ghost story tropes, and a lively pair of intrepid protagonists help keep this spooky novel from getting too scary, and Bryksenkova’s faux-naïf illustrations contribute. Fans of Kenneth Oppel’s The Nest (2015) will appreciate this similarly atmospheric, haunting tale. - Copyright 2017 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 08/01/2017 Gr 4–7—Elizabeth and Zenobia are friends. Elizabeth is timid, and Zenobia can best be described as unusual and fearless. They arrive at Witheringe House, a creepy manor where Elizabeth's father lived as a child. Zenobia loves it at first sight and is convinced that it is haunted. Eager to make contact with any spirit presence that might be found in the many secret and "off-limits" spaces in the house, Zenobia immediately begins holding seances and trying to commune with the dead. Elizabeth, however, is leery, so she is relieved when Zenobia's efforts seem unsuccessful. But strange things begin to happen in the East Wing, one of the areas that Elizabeth and Zenobia have been forbidden to explore. Flowers and vines in the wallpaper seem to come to life. The girls find a strange book whose words and images morph into different stories after the stroke of midnight. Strangest of all, Elizabeth discovers that her father had a sister, Tourmaline, who disappeared in the house when she was a young girl. With themes on courage, friendship, and imagination, Miller's novel is spooky and inviting. Older middle grade readers who have read widely in the genre might find it predictable and lacking a satisfying climax. There are questions throughout the story dealing with Zenobia's existence. Is or isn't she Elizabeth's imaginary friend? Is she a ghost? These questions will bother some readers, but others will enjoy the weirdness of it all. VERDICT Give this debut novel to readers looking for an accessible read and a bit of a scare.—Amy Caldera, Dripping Springs Middle School, TX - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.