September 4, 2014

Review: The Only Thing Worse Than Witches by Lauren Magaziner

Title: The Only Thing Worse Than Witches
Release Date: August 14th, 2014
Publisher: Dial
Page Count: 272
Source: Purchased
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Rupert Campbell is fascinated by the witches who live nearby. He dreams of broomstick tours and souvenir potions, but Rupert’s mother forbids him from even looking at that part of town. The closest he can get to a witchy experience is sitting in class with his awful teacher Mrs. Frabbleknacker, who smells like bellybutton lint and forbids Rupert’s classmates from talking to each other before, during, and after class. So when he sees an ad to become a witch’s apprentice, Rupert simply can’t resist applying.

But Witchling Two isn’t exactly what Rupert expected. With a hankering for lollipops and the magical aptitude of a toad, she needs all the help she can get to pass her exams and become a full-fledged witch. She’s determined to help Rupert stand up to dreadful Mrs. Frabbleknacker too, but the witchling's magic will be as useful as a clump of seaweed unless Rupert can figure out a way to help her improve her spellcasting—and fast!

[Summary Source: Goodreads]


It's about this boy, Rupert, who has a mother who has to work entirely too hard to support Rupert and herself and this awful teacher (think Ms. Trunchbull from Matilda) who isolates all her students and treats them like garbage.  Feeling lonely, what with his crazy busy mother and this nutso teacher who stole all his friends from him, Rupert answers an ad in the paper for a Witch's Assistant. He knows he shouldn't since his mother hates witches, witches hate humans, and a whole host of other reasons, but Rupert really wants to be this Witch's apprentice.

So Rupert answers the ad and, after a hilarious phone conversation, Rupert meets the Witch, who's actually a Witchling - a Witch in training. Witchling Two needs help studying for her exam to become a Witch with a proper name. Rupert needs a friend and a little help with his awful teacher. Thankfully, Witchling Two and Rupert now have each other - plus chase scenes, bunnies, magic, and lots and lots of lollipops.

If the real summary + my summary don't quite convey the adorableness of the plot, you should know, it's really, really, really adorable.

Rupert and Witchling Two are so sweet together - the perfect friends. They start off unsure of each other, but they grow to really care for each other in a way that's both funny and touching. And that's really great is that neither really understands the other. They both come from such different places and upbringings, but they learn from each other, pick things up, and accept what they don't understand (yet). And it's the misunderstandings between the two that make for the hilarity of this book. So much to love, really.

Another brilliant element of this book the adventure. I'm not sure anything in this book made sense in the best way. I'm guessing that's because Lauren Magaziner's brain is so brilliantly random and perfect, but whatever the case may be, it's wonderful. The way Witchling Two is afraid of bunnies? Or that Witch eyes slide right off sand? How Witchling Two and Rupert sneak around and think they're being clever but maybe they're not? The solution to Witchling Two's magic problems? I love it all.

Finally: I also love the ever-present parental influence and guidance. Rupert's mom is very busy and incredibly oblivious, but she loves Rupert. Witchling Two's guardians are perfect and excellent, responsible and rule abiding, sneaky and fantastic.

All in All:
I love the adventure, hijinks, silliness, hilarity, adorableness, and structure of this book. So much. And I think this book is perfect for anyone (Middle Graders and older) who love silliness, magic, and friendship. Oh, and cuteness.