A Very Witchy Spelling Bee

illus. by Mark Fearing. 32p. Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-15-206696-3.
Gr 1–4—It is time for The Witches' Double Spelling Bee and young Cordelia decides to enter. After all, "She's studied. She's practiced. She's ready to win." Grumpy returning champ Beulah Divine, at age 203, is not about to let a little girl trounce her winning streak, so she plays dirty, turning Cordelia's ears into pears, and her hair into a chair. Young Cordelia, though, is able to both win and make a friend out of a fiend. With this "spelling spell," Shannon has used clever wordplay and created a downright fun language game. Fearing's quirky penciled cartoon images accompany this battle of the letters, showing green-skinned witches with big eyes and funny smiles. Classroom spelling bees will never be the same once young readers get their hands on this title.—Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, NS, Canada
Young witch Cordelia combines her love for magic spells with her enthusiasm for spelling words -- for example casting an O spell to change her cat into a coat. When the Witches' Double Spelling Bee (held once every decade) rolls around, Cordelia thinks she'll be a shoo-in, but her skills are put to the test against thirteen-time winner Beulah Divine. It's difficult to make a subject like spelling memorable, but Shannon's text engagingly demonstrates the relationships between words while Fearing's kinetic pencil and digital illustrations lend a Saturday-morning-cartoon quality to the characters and the comedic spell-casting action. russell perry

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