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*The Witch of Clatteringshaws (Wolves Chronicles)* by Joan Aiken - tweens/young readers book review



The Witch of Clatteringshaws (Wolves Chronicles)
by Joan Aiken
Ages 9-12 160 pages Yearling August 2006 Paperback    

Joan Aiken, author of more than one hundred books, graces the pages of yet another installment to the "Dido Twite" series with her award-winning talent. This series began many years ago with The Wolves of Willowby Chase. Yearling, the publisher for this series, is a trusted name in the book industry and has entertained young readers for more than 40 years.

The Witch of Clatteringshaws, a 160-page paperback, is suitable for grades 4-7, or ages 9-13. This humorous fantasy holds lighthearted fun in store for young readers. It is not necessary to have read the previous books in the series in order to appreciate this book.

The setting for The Witch of Clatteringshaws is in the lands of Scotland and England. Use of horse, train, and ferry travel along with British slang breathes life into the tale. Characters in this story must go through many experiences from discerning imposters and finding peaceful solutions to conflicts to discovering inner strength.

Aiken cleverly opens with an intriguing scene of two women trying to escape an approaching battle explained in subsequent chapters. She incorporates unusual names like Wiggonhold (a parrot), the Finnish Princess Jocandra, and the two main characters, Dido and Piers. Malaise, a witch stationed at the small Scottish village called Clatteringshaws, is a main supporting character in the book.

Poor Simon doesn’t want to be King and dreads the long, boring drudgery of court life. Invading armies and night-dwelling Hobyahs keep Simon busy defending his realm. He appeals to his dear friend Dido, who has always been there for him. In response, Dido and her friend Piers set out to Scotland in search of another heir with a greater claim to the throne. Aided by several friends and the creature known as the Loch Monster, Dido and Piers find themselves rescuing Fred, a badly abused boy, along the way.

Interestingly, the book comprises two main, yet somewhat conflicting, elements of rescue: that of Simon, who doesn’t want to be King though he may prove to be good at it, and the rescue of Fred, who may be the rightful King, but doesn’t appear to have what it takes to rule a kingdom.

I enjoyed the unusual and unexpected ending. including an excerpt from next book in this series, Midwinter Nightingale, at the end of the book is a nice touch, an intriguing glimpse of what lies ahead.

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  Lillian Brummet/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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