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Cynical Sorcerers and Cruising Castles

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TITLE: Howl’s Moving Castle

AUTHOR: Diana Wynne Jones

LENGTH:  336 pages

PUBLISHER: Green Willow Books

SUMMARY: (via amazon.com) In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.

After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.

The Hatter sisters–Sophie, Lettie, and Martha–and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.

In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl’s castle?

BRIDGE: It seems I’m coming across a lot of books lately that lend themselves to studying fairy tales. This book would be a good bridge to traditional Grimm stories or other fairy tales. There are elements of Lewis Carrol and even Tolkein. Jones mocks these traditional fairy tale elements and it would be a good starting point for a discussion of satire and parody. Along with these elements, students could also study the use of humor and sarcasm in character development and the creation of character relationships.

READERS: Fans of fantasy and magic will enjoy this book. Readers who have a tast for sarcasm and parody will also enjoy this title. It has several levels of meaning and will appeal to middle level readers as well as high schoolers and adults.

OTHER TITLES: Readers who enjoy this book might also like Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, or Cinder by Marissa Meyer
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