Angela and Diabola

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Mr. and Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones are surprised when their expected baby turns out to be twin girls and distressed when they find that one of them is perfectly good and the other perfectly evil.

Mr. and Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones are surprised when their expected baby turns out to be twin girls and distressed when they find that one of them is perfectly good and the other perfectly evil.

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Mr. and Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones are surprised when their expected baby turns out to be twin girls and distressed when they find that one of them is perfectly good and the other perfectly evil.

Mr. and Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones are surprised when their expected baby turns out to be twin girls and distressed when they find that one of them is perfectly good and the other perfectly evil.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
A wickedly comic novel about twins—-one good and one very bad.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the author of The Indian in the Cupboard comes a gleeful romp with a pair of twins: one good and one evil. "The expansive storytelling and comic exaggeration produce high kid appeal," said PW. Ages 8-12. (May)
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
I'm a hopelessly addicted fan of Lynne Reid Banks. I mourned when the studios botched The Indian in the Cupboard. I have an affinity for hares with magical habits. As for King Midas, I can't imagine his story any more without a dragon and a few flandybakes thrown in. But even I hesitated before plunging into this odd tale of twin girls personifying absolute good and absolute evil. To perfectly ordinary, if slightly confused, parents, are born two babies-one adorable; the other, to put it briefly, not. The tale takes off in a rollicking series of events that nevertheless have an undercurrent of more somber meaning. I needn't have worried. Banks handles this powerful theme with customary flair. Read this aloud with a nine or ten-year old and both adult and child reader will get a little something from it. In the end, we are left reassured that no one's completely angelic, foolishness is mostly temporary, and there's good and bad, thank heavens, in all of us.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-By Lynn Reed Banks. Angela and Diabola are twin sisters who are completely opposite. Angela is kind and good; Diabola is hateful and wicked. Only Angela can help her sister, but is she willing to pay the price?
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8From the moment they are born, twin sisters Angela and Diabola are almost enough to drive their normal parents, the Cuthbertson-Joneses, to distraction. Angela is perfect. Diabola is perfectly horrid. As a toddler she kills the cat, starts a riot in the grocery store, and causes her mother to be jailed. Exorcism fails, so the only solution is containmentDiabola must be caged most of the time. Fortunately, her teachers decide her sadomasochistic drawing is the work of a genius so she is kept busy with art and relatively free of trouble. But when her father runs away in despair, her evil energies begin to grow. She pulls down the house, learns to start fires with her mind, and wreaks havoc through her telekinetic abilities. Only Angela can stop her, which she does in an epic fight of good against evil. Good wins, but somehow Angela ends up with one of Diabola's eyesand a little bit of evil. Banks's absurd look at human nature is often bitingly funny. Diabola hates to bathe, but she likes "lying in very hot water and gnawing on hard foods like bones, so she was not as she might have been." No punches are pulled and Diabola's actions are not for the squeamish. But fans of the ridiculous, and of Roald Dahl, should enjoy this wicked romp.Anne Connor, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Banks (The Mystery of the Cupboard, 1993, etc.) introduces readers to twin girls—one purely good, one purely evil—who make a hash of their well-intentioned parents' lives.

From birth, Angela is the embodiment of goodness; people blissfully melt at the sight of her. Everyone loathes nasty, screaming, purple-faced Diabola: Her parents have to pay a pair of street bums to be her godparents, and the vicar is so startled by her mean little eyes that he drops her in the baptismal font. Diabola, absolutely without conscience, grows up and goes on wreaking havoc, culminating with the burning down of the school. She's by far the more engrossing character, but sweet, passive Angela has more to her than meets the eye—she's the only person on earth with a modicum of control over Diabola. Banks gives her story a contemporary setting and tries to make the twins' parents as normal as possible, but the conceit of the piece—good and evil personified—demands fairy-tale language and magical (perhaps spiritual) intervention. The two approaches don't always blend: Banks often sacrifices subtlety for the broad satire of Roald Dahl's work, but the conclusion is both satisfying and novel.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380794096
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 7.47 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Read an Excerpt


Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones was having a baby.

At least, that's what she had understood was happening.

She was lying in bed in a hospital with a big bump in her tummy and a nurse fussing around her, saying things like, It won't be long now.

Mr. Cuthbertson-Jones was not present.

I'm sure you'll manage splendidly without me, dear, he had said, and vanished before she could mention the fact that lots of husbands stay with their wives when their babies are being born.

Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones thought he was probably in a pub somewhere, not even in a waiting room, smoking heavily and pacing the floor, the way husbands do in movies. But she didn't mind.

She didn't mind that, or anything else, because she felt so extraordinarily happy and comfortable.

She was twenty-two years old and this was her first baby.

She had heard that having a baby can hurt. But having this one wasn't hurting in the slightest. In fact, she felt as if she were on a nice pink cloud somewhere up close to heaven.

The nurse thought she was being awfully brave. I've never known anyone make less fuss, she said several times.

Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones was making so little fuss that after a while the nurse went out of the room for a cup of tea. While she was away, Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones suddenly decided that the nurse ought to come back right away. She pressed the bell she had been given. The nurse bustled back, looking a little annoyed because she had left her tea half finished.

"I think the baby is coming now," said Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones pleasantly.

"Oh, no, dear," said the nurse very firmly. "If it were, you'd know all about it!"

I do know all about it, said Mrs.Cuthbertson-Jones. It's being born right this minute."

Nonsense, dear, said the nurse. "You're not even pushing."

I don't need to push, said Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones. But it's coming just the same.

The nurse smiled in a superior way and was just about to say Nonsense, dear again when her eyes went to a little bump that had suddenly sprung up under the bed clothes. She heard a sound—they both did—not a cry, more a sort of polite little cough.

The nurse went white in the face. She stripped back the bedclothes. Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones sat up and looked. They both goggled.

There in the bed was the prettiest, sweetest little baby either of them had ever seen or imagined.

The nurse gaped at it with her mouth hanging open. Then she threw one look of reproach at Mrs. Cuthbertson Jones, as if she had tricked her somehow, and scooped the baby up in her arms.

Why didn't you tell me? she asked Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones.

I did tell you, she replied, and then said, Do let me hold the darling little creature.

The nurse was giving the baby a sponge bath. As she did so, all her annoyance and hurt pride just melted away. She had never seen such a beautiful child in all her life. Just holding it and looking into its milky-blue eyes made the nurse feel calm and happy. She was very sorry when she had to hand it over to its mother. She had the curious feeling that she wanted to go on holding it forever.

As soon as Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones had the baby in her arms, her pink cloud rose a little farther and she felt as if she had reached the gates of heaven and sailed right through them.

She knew at once this was a very, very special baby.

Most babies, when they are first born, are all red and crinkled and they tend to scream and cry at finding them selves out in the world. But not this one.

This baby just lay in its mother's arms, gurgling and smiling.

Look! A smile! said the proud mother.

Since parting from the baby, the nurse had gone back to being herself again. Nonsense, she said briskly. Babies don't smile until they're several months old.

This one does. Just you look.

The nurse glanced at the baby's face. Her eyes be came fixed.

Well! That is really extraordinary! She is smiling!

Oh! Is it a girl? asked Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones, who hadn't thought to ask before.

Yes, it's a dear sweetbeautifulperfect little girl, said the nurse, in a voice she herself hardly recognized, because it sounded like golden syrup. "Shall I go and find hubby and tell him?"

But before Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones could answer, her face changed.

Ow! she said suddenly. And before the nurse could do anything, she shouted Ow! much louder than before.

The nurse whisked the baby away because Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones was now yelling and thrashing about so much in the bed that she was afraid she might drop it.

Whatever is the matter with you? the nurse asked crossly. It's all over now!

NO IT ISN'T! shouted Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones. Ow ow OW! It hurts, it HURTS!

You're just imagining— began the nurse. Suddenly she broke off, because under the bedclothes, which she'd pulled back up to keep the patient warm, something strange was happening.

Another bump had appeared!

But this time it didn't just lie there making a polite little cough. It looked as if the bump was punching and kicking. And no sooner had Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones stopped yelling, than the bump started.

And what yells! The nurse was so astonished that for a few seconds she couldn't move. Never had she heard a newborn baby make such a noise. Never!

She quickly recovered herself and pulled the covers back. Once again Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones sat up and looked.

They both reeled back at the sight that met their eyes.

A most hideous little baby lay there on its back, purple in the face, punching and kicking around it. Its mouth was wide open and its tiny eyes—as green as the first baby's were blue—glittered with rage. It was screaming its head off.

Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones fell back on her pillows. Her pink cloud had dissolved and she fell to earth with a jolt. Gracious me! What is it?

It's a baby, dear, said the nurse grimly. Yes," she added to herself. That's what it is. What else can it be? It's a baby.

Let me hold it, whispered Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones bravely. This one's my baby, too.

Very well, dear, if you're sure. The nurse turned to pick the baby up. Ups-a-daisy! she was saying, when it turned its head and bit her severely on the thumb.

The nurse dropped it with a shriek. Luckily—or perhaps unluckily—it fell back onto the bed and, apart from a small bounce, was unharmed.

The nurse was examining her thumb in amazement. It throbbed like a snakebite.

Toothmarks! she muttered. I don't believe this!

She put on a pair of thick rubber gloves (she really wished they could have been gardening ones) and approached the baby again. This time she was careful, and although the baby twisted its face and tried again to bite, the nurse had a firm hold of its head and it couldn't. It managed to get in a good kick to the nurse's stomach, though, and as soon as it could, it reached up its tiny hand, pulled her glasses off, and began to gnaw them.

The nurse snatched them back, put the baby on a table, held it down, and looked into its mouth.

It had four sharp little teeth, two up and two down.

Still holding its head, the nurse felt its arms and legs. There seemed to be a lot of muscles in them. The baby was struggling to get free of her hands. She had to use a lot of strength to hold onto it.

She let her eyes go to the first baby, which was lying in a bassinet on the table.

It lay there like a little rose, all pink and perfect, cooing and smiling and waving its tiny hands in the air.

She looked back at the baby she was holding.

It was even more hideous than when it had first been born. Its face was dark red, almost purple. The rest of it was a sort of blue. It had hair like puce corkscrews. It had long sharp finger- and toenails. It had stopped screaming and was glaring at her and grinding its four teeth.

The nurse had to hold down more than the baby. She was holding down a feeling of terror.

Afraid of a baby? she scolded herself. Nonsense!

Holding it firmly, she wiped it clean and wrapped it securely in a blanket. She had to fight against the feeling that she was tying it up.

Are you sure you want to hold it, dear? she asked the mother.

Oh, yes, said Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones faintly. I think so. Don't I?

Well, I wouldn't, thought the nurse, wouldn't want to touch it with a barge-pole. But she handed it to Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones and felt extremely glad to get rid of it. She stripped off the rubber gloves and gave her hands a good wash. Blood was still pouring from her thumb.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones was trying to get over an uncomfortable feeling that she didn't like this baby nearly as much as the first one.

She knew it was absolutely wrong for a mother to feel this way, so she worked very hard on seeing the nice side of this one.

It wasn't easy. Certainly not while its little green eyes were open and glaring at her. But after a short time, it fell asleep. Its face became a little less purple. Its cork screw hair stopped sticking out so much. Its hands and feet stopped struggling inside the tight blanket.

Mrs. Cuthbertson-Jones stroked its cheek with one finger and thought she might be able to love it after all. At least, if it slept a lot.

The nurse was trying to recover from her shock and the pain in her thumb. She glanced at the baby and thought perhaps she hadn't been quite fair to it. It was certainly a most strange-looking infant, but after all, as she re minded herself, you can't expect to take to all of them.

Still, as she left the room, she couldn't shake off the feeling that she had taken part in something most unusual and . . . what was the word?


Copyright ) 1997 by Lynne Reid Banks

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2003

    um, interesting

    I definately have mixed feelings about this book, I read it a couple of years ago and was freaked out, it is scary, weird, there are no words, but you have to keep reading to find out what happens, wont be able to put it down, until you're finished that is

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2003

    Angela And Diabola

    This Is One Of My Favorite Books! And I've Read Many Books, But This Book Is One Of The Best! I checked it out of the library 4 months ago and I read 12 times! (no really!)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2003

    good and evil

    This book is dreadfull yet wonderful it is the best book I ever read. It is very much in a world where everything is perfect or dreadful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2002

    This is the best childrens book ever written!

    This book was very intersting! When i was 12 i got it from the library and read it twice! then i begged my parents to get it for me and ever since then i read it at least once a month! this book is a great book with a hilarious twist!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2001

    Good and Evil Unite

    It was a wonderful book with many twist. The ending is unexpected. iI really urge you to read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2001

    The Best Book

    Hey, every1! This is the best book and my favorite one!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2001

    One of my favorite books !

    This book is hilarious. It is great. I would reccomend it it for ages 8-12

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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