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Author: Vernon, Ursula
When little, twelve-year-old Molly arrives at Castle Hangnail to fill the vacancy for a wicked witch, the minions who dwell there have no choice but to give her the job and at first it seems she will be able to keep the castle open, but Molly has quite a few secrets that could cause trouble.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.10
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 173601
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 15.0 Quiz: 65929
Kirkus Reviews (+) (02/01/15)
School Library Journal (01/01/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (06/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 01/01/2015 Gr 4–6—Molly, a 12-year-old witch, arrives as the new master of Castle Hangnail, despite some misgivings on the part of Majordomo, the Igor-like guardian responsible for the management of its legacy and various minion occupants. To keep the castle from having its magic removed and its minions dispersed, Molly must perform a series of wicked tasks, which may be beyond the scope of her moral compass and her fledgling powers. Featuring a bevy of cute and unthreatening touches and populated throughout with spot illustrations, the book quickly establishes grounded and effective stakes. One the one hand, a character is a hypochondriac goldfish, but on the other, a child is responsible for the livelihoods of several adults and is hiding secrets that could drastically affect them. To have these aspects exist side by side so seamlessly is testament to the author's careful maneuvering of tone, including a finale that solidly shows the story's veneer of innocence is overlaid on significant and deadly consequences. While that depth could make the peril disquietingly real for younger readers, it offers a read with substance and resonance, despite the more whimsical trappings. An appealing fantasy for upper middle grade readers.—Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 03/15/2015 Castle Hangnail must have a master or it will be decommissioned. So when 12-year-old Molly shows up on the doorstep, claiming to be the new master, most of the minions working in the castle accept her despite her youth and seeming lack of true evil. After all, she has the invitation from the Board of Magic, and she can perform magic. But the castle has fallen into disrepair, and the board’s list of tasks (including blighting, smiting, and defending) must be completed if she is truly to be master. When an old and powerful rival of Molly’s shows up to claim the castle for herself, all that Molly can do may not be enough. In the tradition of Eva Ibbotson comes a wacky, heartwarming tale of magic, friendship, and home. Creatively drawn characters—from a Minotaur cook to a donkey-dragon to clockwork bees—enjoy mutual respect and will sacrifice whatever is needed to safeguard the castle and its master. The illustrations add whimsy to this delightful tale, and the satisfying conclusion leaves the door cracked for future adventures. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2015 Castle Hangnail needs a new master or mistress to boss around the minions and terrorize the realm, but those minions aren’t convinced that twelve-year-old sweetheart Molly is the right one for the job, even if she is carrying one of their invitations. It turns out that she stole it, though that fact isn’t revealed until well after she has already completed most of the tasks required to get the castle up to snuff, and after the staff has already fallen in love with her. What Molly lacks in true evil, she makes up for with her sharp wit, cleverness, and willingness to see bad guys get their due; these traits ably compensate for her youth and for her core of goodness, which startles the minions who were pretty certain up until now that if they aren’t being tormented, then they weren’t doing their jobs. The plot neatly gets the parents out of the way, giving Molly free and unsupervised rein and allowing readers to live vicariously through a girl who is pampered by minotaurs, animated armor, and various other cool, slightly spooky characters. The drafty castle is carefully described in ways that highlight the personality and mystery such a location can offer, becoming a character in itself that creaks and sighs, houses bats and moles and misfits, and serves as a true icon of magic for the area. Frequent black and white illustrations mostly add humor, keeping the scarier elements tolerable for skittish readers. Fans of Ibbotson and Vande Velde will be right at home with this novel, and all readers will likely hope that Molly returns for more adventures now that she’s truly earned her place. AS - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.