Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

*Araminta Spookie 2: The Sword in the Grotto* by Angie Sage, illustrated by Jimmy Pickering - tweens/young readers book review

Also by Angie Sage:

Araminta Spookie 1: My Haunted House

Septimus Heap, Book 1: Magyk

Septimus Heap, Book 2: Flyte

Septimus Heap, Book 3: Physik


Araminta Spookie 2: The Sword in the Grotto
by Angie Sage, illustrated by Jimmy Pickering
Ages 7-12 160 pages Katherine Tegen Books July 2006 Hardcover    

With Saturday and Sunday bedrooms, three kitchens (at least), and a dumbwaiter, Spookie House is not going to feel the effects of three extra residents. The Wizzards - and their cute frogs - are now living with Araminta’s family. Luckily Barry, Brenda, and their daughter, Wanda, fit right in. Barry and Wanda help with Uncle Drac’s deliveries to the mushroom farm. Brenda has a cupboard stocked with food, and Wanda has bonded with Sir Horace, one of the ghosts at Spookie House.

Although Araminta is a little jealous of Wanda’s friendship with Sir Horace, Wanda does have her good points. She is a good companion to have when an avalanche of gummi bears falls on your head. And she’s excellent at string-unraveling on secret sword-retrieving missions. Araminta and Wanda spy an old but hard to reach sword in a twisty passage of caves under Spookie House. While Araminta and Wanda are retrieving the sword for Sir Horace’s 500th birthday party, Uncle Drac falls four floors and fears he’s landed on big bat. He’s healing in the broom closet and taking up a new hobby (which is too surprising to reveal in a review).

There are many reasons to celebrate when Araminta and Wanda return from their trip underground in the caves. The girls learn the story behind Edmund and Sir Horace’s ghostly appearance. Readers will see Edmund in a new light now - still a green and glowing light, that is - but Araminta can no longer believe Edmund is a “weedy little ghost” who is “shy and acts like he’s a bit of a wimp.” In addition, Sir Horace is now happy, and so is Araminta. The unraveled string is back in her possession, ready to be used for the next trip.

In this second book, Araminta is as smart as ever. Always prepared, she carries cheese and onion chips in her Secret Passage Kit. She takes her “Secret Tunnel Handy Hint Handbook” while following the tunnels under Spookie House. And on her journey for the sword, she calms Wanda, who tends to scare very easily.

The Sword in the Grotto is fun to read. This is the second book in the series and, for those who were hooked after reading the first book, there are new facts to learn about Spookie House and its inhabitants. Because of the text and the illustrations, every few flips of the page causes a little creeping smile to form. Sir Horace, the ghostly knight in Spookie House, wants very badly to forget something, and he believes removing his head might be the trick to forgetting. Instances like this, and Jimmy Pickering’s black and white illustrations, are what children will love. To see Uncle Drac and Big Bat clasping each other, and the Wizzard’s frogs enjoying a car ride, is to become a fan all over again.

Never have I become a fan so fast. With the little recap on the first page, you can read The Sword in the Grotto without reading the first book, My Haunted House - however, you will want to read it shortly afterwards. I’m ready for number three in the series!

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Tanya Boudreau/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (