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Pure Dead Batty

Pure Dead Batty

5.0 1
by Debi Gliori

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Autumn has come to StregaSchloss, and as the days grow dark, an even darker depression has come over the Strega-Borgia family. Ever since the disappearance of their beloved nanny, Mrs. McLachlan, nothing has been the same. To make matters worse, Luciano has been wrongfully charged with her murder and thrown into prison. Never has the family needed Mrs. McLachlan so


Autumn has come to StregaSchloss, and as the days grow dark, an even darker depression has come over the Strega-Borgia family. Ever since the disappearance of their beloved nanny, Mrs. McLachlan, nothing has been the same. To make matters worse, Luciano has been wrongfully charged with her murder and thrown into prison. Never has the family needed Mrs. McLachlan so badly! But with the help of a magical camera and a mysterious silver thread, there may still be hope. . . .

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Ruth Cox Clark
The eccentric Strega-Borgia family is in a funk in this fifth title of the Drop Dead series. Mrs. McLachlan, their beloved nanny, has disappeared. Because of a "tip" from the unhappy French cook who is being paid off by Luciano's evil twin brother, Lucifer, Luciano is framed for Mrs. McLachlan's murder. Baci, Luciano's very pregnant wife, is too grief stricken to pay much attention to how the situation is affecting her three children, Titus, Pandora, and toddler Damp. Latch, the butler, and the nonhuman extended family members step, crawl, and drop in to take her place. A lipstick-wearing sarcastic mother spider, a pregnant dragon that spurts fire from both ends, and a ditzy bat are just a few of the creatures that wander the hallways and dungeons of the remote Scottish estate of StregaSchloss. But photographic messages mysteriously appear on the film that Pandora is developing-messages from Mrs. McLachlan, who is not dead but caught between worlds when she tries to dispose of the deadly Chronostone. It may be up to little Damp, the most magical Strega-Borgia, and Vesper, her bat familiar, to rescue Mrs. McLachlan and save Luciano. This installment is a wonderfully delightful romp with a zany family whose members clearly love each other, human and nonhuman alike. Having read previous titles in the series would add depth to the background story, but the book stands alone as a witty and amusing fantasy for tween and younger teen readers. Offer this one to Lemony Snicket fans.
Children's Literature - Trina Heidt
Titus, Pandora, and Damp Strega-Borgia are depressed and in denial, to say the least. Their beloved nanny, Mrs. McLachlan, has mysteriously disappeared; their father, Luciano, has been imprisoned, falsely accused of several murders; and their wanna-be-a-witch mother, Baci is gestating a fourth Strega-Borgia and is as flaky as ever. Even though they are surrounded by their protective extended family of various talking beasts and Latch, their devoted butler, the eccentric children of the remote Scottish estate, StreggaSchloss, remain inconsolable as the days drag on. It is not until strange signs begin to appear that the children are jolted out of their hopelessness to try to solve the mystery of their missing nanny. Filled with magic, mayhem, and quite a lot of off-beat humor, readers will find themselves pulled into the fray and unable not to like this quirky family. Even though this is the fifth title in the "Pure Dead" series, it can be read out of order as a stand alone, though readers would have a more complete understanding of the family's history if the others in the series were read first. A note to parents who may be concerned about such things: this book is full of magical beings and some demons. There is a secondary character named S'tan, portrayed comically and mostly as a spoiled, overgrown child. There is also a very brief scene mentioning a satanic ritual.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-In this latest installment in the series, the madness and the antics are as crazed as ever. This time the Strega-Borgia children's father has been framed for murder by his evil half brother, Lucifer Di S'Embowelli Borgia. The family is trying to find a way to prove his innocence all the while coping with the loss of their beloved nanny. The story is definitely difficult to follow for those who haven't read the previous volumes, but for fans of the series, there are many resolutions and answers to cliff-hangers left from the earlier books. This series is perfect for fantasy readers who want humor with their magic. Adults will be reminded of the Addams family with the collection of strange animals and the Strega-Borgias' blithe acceptance of the strange, but therein lies the secret of its success.-Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Good prevails, malice gets a proper-often terminal-comeuppance and characters come back from the incompletely dead in this latest tale featuring the closely knit but harum-scarum Strega-Borgia clan and its assorted nonhuman hangers-on. The daily chaos continues amid a welter of spectacularly destructive mishaps and gross alimentary eruptions. Even as gentle paterfamilias Luciano is being carted off to prison as a mass murderer in the latest ploy from his crazed Mafioso half-brother, the twin pregnancies of Luciano's ditzy wife Baci and Ffup the dragon, a scaly diva ("I. Don't. Do. Carbs. Ever.") with a tendency to blow flames from both ends, provide emotional roller coasters for the three (soon to be four) Strega-Borgia siblings. And with visits to Heaven, Hell and a few places in-between, beloved nanny/witch Flora McLachlan continues her efforts to keep the incredibly dangerous Chronostone out of the clutches of S'tan, First Minister of the Hadean Executive. Despite the author's near-continual attempts to fill in the background, readers unfamiliar with the previous three episodes are likely to flounder amid this tangle of ongoing subplots, but anyone with a taste for wild farce anchored by a loving family will be enraptured. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
1090L (what's this?)
File size:
6 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Pure Dead Batty

By Debi Gliori

Knopf Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2006 Debi Gliori
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0375833161

Memento Mori

At four o'clock on the afternoon of the first of October, police cars drew up at each of the three main gates to the StregaSchloss estate and effectively cordoned off the area.

As a further precaution, a launch sped up Lochnagargoyle, cut its engines, and dropped anchor just out of sight of the StregaSchloss jetty. Radios crackled, then fell silent as moments ticked by, marked by the rain drumming on the roofs of the police cars and turning their windshields opaque.

Inside the cars the policemen waited for the rain to stop, enviously imagining what it would be like to have so much money that you could afford to live in a huge house like StregaSchloss.

"How many did you say, Detective Sergeant?"

"Fifty-six chimneys, sir."

There StregaSchloss lay, its turrets and chimneys thrust aggressively into the sky; a vast, unattainable, immeasurably expensive chunk of real estate bigger than all the policemen's houses put together.

"Surely that rust bucket can't be their only car, Detective Sergeant?"

"'Fraid so, sir--apart from the butler's wee Japanese jobbie."

Outside StregaSchloss, parked on the rose-quartz drive, was the Strega-Borgia family car, badly in need of a wash and bearing a scrawl to this effect on its rear window. Witha pair of high-powered binoculars the DCI could just about decipher the message:

Pure Dead mingin'--please wash me

In Titus's opinion a wash was not enough. He'd written this considered criticism on the car's rear window months ago, but it had failed to bring results: the car still hadn't been washed, and a season spent hauling Titus and his sister Pandora back and forth along a rutted muddy track hadn't improved the car's general state of decrepitude. Nor had his little sister Damp's habit of littering all the car's internal horizontal surfaces with a combination of peanut butter, glitter, and a selection of the dried-up furry bits from the insides of several disemboweled felt pens. No, Titus thought, a grin appearing on his face, a wash was not what their car required. It needed some kind soul to disengage the hand brake, put the gears in neutral, and push the car straight into the moat, where, with luck, it would vanish from sight into the deep mud at the bottom--the same forgiving mud that had swallowed so many unwanted things over the years.

Then they could buy a decent car. Something fast. Something sleek and powerful. Something--Titus's smile faded--something highly unsuitable for a family of two adults, and three children, plus another one due to appear round about Christmas. By which time the parents would either tie Titus and Pandora to the roof rack to make room for the new baby or go and buy something truly hideous with buslike rows of industrial seating, the motor equivalent of an elastic band under the bonnet, and a name that would make Titus cringe every time the parents referred to it. Like, er: "Go and get my bag out of the Nipply, would you, darling"; or, "I think I'd better get gas for the Sopha while I'm in town"; or even, shudder, shudder, "Yeah, but it's not as big as our Urse TDi."

Still, Titus decided, anything, even an Urse TDi, had to be better than having to walk to Auchenlochtermuchty. He hardly noticed when several wet figures ran across the rose quartz and applied themselves to the front doorbell with great urgency. Had he not been quite so preoccupied, Titus might have spotted that two of the scurrying figures were dressed in identical damp black serge with checkerboard detail round the epaulettes: the uniform of the Argyll and Bute Police.

Meanwhile, in his bedroom in the attic, the StregaSchloss butler, Latch, was not enjoying an afternoon nap. He'd spent the hours since lunchtime trying to evict a bat. In vain had he opened skylights and made shooing noises; unsurprisingly, given the rain outside, the bat was having none of it. Latch had no desire to harm the little creature, but he most emphatically didn't want to share the same room. After several abortive attempts to flap it out of the window using a pillowcase as propellant, Latch had given up and was now sitting on his bed, trying to reason with the intruder. The bat hung upside down from the lampshade and ignored him.

"Look," Latch said, "it's dead simple. This is my cave, not yours. The only person I want to share it with lies fathoms deep at the bottom of Lochnagargoyle, and frankly you, pal, are no substitute. Though undoubtedly heaven-sent, the love of my life had no visible wings and definitely wasn't covered in black fur."

The bat blinked and extended one leathery wing.

"Please," Latch said, blowing his nose and wiping his eyes, "leave me alone. Go and do your bat-thing somewhere else. You remind me of death--as if I needed reminding." He closed his eyes, shutting out the sight of the spartan bedroom; a room that bore no evidence of anything other than solitary bachelorhood and utter loneliness. There were no photographs, no letters, nothing to show for the love he'd found and lost. Even his memory of her was dimming as the days without her ticked by; days he spent scanning the loch shore, willing the water to return her to him, his mermaid, his selkie, his loved and lost Flora.

The bat extended both wings and cleared his throat with a discreet cough. "I hate to intrude on your grieving, sir," he whispered. "Forgive me for interrupting. I'm not looking for you, actually. Any chance you could point me toward the witch?"

He waited, refolding his wings like organic origami, his pale eyes blinking in the fading light.

"The witch?" Latch's voice emerged as a strangled squeak.

"The real witch," the bat insisted. "Not the big one, nor the medium one, but the little one--oh, whatsername: Wet? Clammy? Moist?"

"Damp," Latch said. "Down eight flights of stairs, hang a left, and third door on the right along the corridor."

"Damp," the bat said in an awed voice. "D-aaaaammmmmmp."

"Indeed," said Latch, his tone indicating that his patience was running out alongside the bat's welcome. To further this impression he opened the door leading onto the attic corridor, and stepped back to allow the uninvited guest to make his exit unimpeded.

"I'm much obliged," the bat squeaked, unfolding one wing after the other and giving both a good shake. "Really sorry about your sad loss."

"Quite," muttered Latch. He turned aside and crossed the room to stand gazing sightlessly out the window; as clear a signal as one could wish for that the conversation, such as it was, had come to an end. When his swimming eyes were able to focus once more, he realized that the distant white blob parked across the north gate to StregaSchloss was a police car, but by then it was too late.


Excerpted from Pure Dead Batty by Debi Gliori Copyright © 2006 by Debi Gliori. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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