The Robe of Skulls (Tales from the Five Kingdoms Series #1)

The Robe of Skulls (Tales from the Five Kingdoms Series #1)

4.4 23
by Vivian French, Ross Collins
     
 

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"A romp filled with language play and just plain nonsense. . . . Everyone gets his, her, or its due; goodness is rewarded; and evil punished oh-so-wickedly." — The Horn Book

High above the mountain village of Fracture, trouble is brewing. The sorceress Lady Lamorna wants a skull-studded gown of deep black velvet, but her treasure chest is

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Overview

"A romp filled with language play and just plain nonsense. . . . Everyone gets his, her, or its due; goodness is rewarded; and evil punished oh-so-wickedly." — The Horn Book

High above the mountain village of Fracture, trouble is brewing. The sorceress Lady Lamorna wants a skull-studded gown of deep black velvet, but her treasure chest is empty of gold. That doesn’t stop her, however, from kidnapping, blackmailing, and using more than a little magic to get what she needs. Will her plans be foiled by the heroic Gracie Gillypot, two chatty bats, a gallant (if scruffy) prince, the wickedest stepsister ever, a troll with a grudge, and some very ancient crones?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Ttwenty-four-carat gold. I forgot reading could be this much fun." — Philip Ardagh, author of the Eddie Dickens trilogy — Philip Ardagh
Publishers Weekly

Take a bedraggled, evil sorceress with a dire need for gold and a dimwitted troll for a sidekick, an impish prince with a goody-two-shoes twin brother, a noble-hearted yet naïve young maiden and her conniving stepsister with a chip on her perfectly slim shoulder, throw them into a screwball fairytale, and the result approximates French's (the Tiara Club series) latest. Intersecting plotlines map each of the four major characters' individual journeys over the brambly hill and through the enchanted woods until their fortunes collide for better or for worse at-what else?-a ball. What follows is as wacky as it is entertaining: as princes galore are zapped into frogs, quirky elements like mazes that change direction and talking bats move the story along. As any fairytale fan knows, there's always a happy ending to look forward to, and this one doesn't disappoint. The elaborate b&w sketches, on the safe side of macabre, add to the fun. Ages 7-9. (July)

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Children's Literature - Melissa Joy Adams
Lady Lamorna, the powerful sorceress of Fracture Castle, must have a new gown made of black velvet and decorated with skulls, spider webs and poison ivy. After ordering her dress from the Ancient Crones, and discovering that she has run out of gold, Lady Lamorna concocts a terrible plan to bring her riches once again and guarantee her dress will be delivered on time. Her plan, otherwise known as "Prince. Zap! Frog," is to capture all the nearby princes, turn them into frogs, and blackmail the kings and queens for gold in exchange for turning them back into humans again. On her way to kidnapping the princes, Lady Lamorna runs into the very beautiful but heartless Foyce Undershaft. With a heart more evil than Lamorna's and a brain far more intelligent, Foyce might just turn out to be the perfect assistant Lamorna needs to succeed in her plan; then again, she might just turn out to be the kind of character who would blackmail the blackmailer. Unknown to Lamorna and Foyce, fate is working against them in the form of a poor but heroic girl, Gracie Gillypot, and a disobedient but brave prince, Marcus. Will these two unsuspecting heroes be able to stop Lady Lamorna and Foyce from their evil plan before it's too late? French spins a truly unique and quick-paced story, complete with comical bats, reluctant heroines, wicked stepsisters, and a really ugly, but maybe not so evil, troll. The writing is clever coupled with the comical tone and swift action plot sure to enchant readers. Collins's black and white illustrations add visual comedy as well as heighten the grim fairy-tale quality of the book. Reviewer: Melissa Joy Adams
Kirkus Reviews
Conceiving a burning desire for a new gown-black velvet, decorated with poison ivy, spider webs and skulls-wicked Lady Lamorna decides to pay for it by turning all the local princes into frogs and extracting ransoms from their royal parents. She gets help on the way from the considerably more clever Foyce Undershaft, a young lady of stunning beauty and "a heart as hard as a frying pan," who is also the evil stepsister of kindly Gracie Gillypot. Enter Marlon, a bat who addresses young folk as "kiddo" and is forever flitting off with a "Ciao!" to deliver messages or orchestrate some dodgy deal. Thanks to his efforts Gracie hooks up with Marcus, a scruffy prince missed in the general amphibious transformation, to rescue the other princes and to trick Foyce into entering a magical sort of rehabilitation program. Lady Lamorna even gets her gown, in the end. Larded with stock comical characters and illustrated with Collins's gangly, Beardsley-esque line drawings, the story will slip down like the bonbon it is. (Fantasy. 10-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763643645
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
04/14/2009
Series:
Tales from the Five Kingdoms Series, #1
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
1,347,206
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile:
740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"Skulls," said Lady Lamorna. "Definitely skulls. Rows and rows of dear little skulls, sewn all along the hem." She sighed with pleasure as she imagined the clitter-clatter of bone on her cold stone floors. "After all, it really is time I had a new gown. Black velvet, of course, and long . . . very long. Perhaps embroidered? Hmm . . . yes. A motif of spiders, or maybe twists of poison ivy." Her huge silver eyes gleamed. "In fact, why not interweave the ivy with spiders' webs? That would be truly beautiful. And petticoats. Layers and layers of blood-red petticoats . . . oh, yes, yes, YES! It will be a robe beyond all compare, and I shall order it this very minute!"

Lady Lamorna snapped her long bony fingers, and within seconds a sharp-toothed bat came flipping in through the open window.

"Yup?"

"I have an order for the Ancient Crones," Lady Lamorna said. "I require a new robe, edged with skulls-"

"Got it." The bat made a swift circle over the Lady's head. "Skulls, velvet, webs, ivy, petticoats. No prob. Delivery date?"

Lady Lamorna looked put out. "Bat! Listen to me! I would like a new robe, made of deep-black velvet-"

"Told ya. I got it." The bat circled again. "Heard you a mile away. I'm a bat, right? Bat ears 'n' all that stuff. Now-delivery?"

Lady Lamorna gave up. "As soon as possible," she said stiffly.

"Roger Wilco. I'll be back soon with info on price and delivery. Have the readies ready. Coins of all denominations readily accepted. Ciao!" And the bat whizzed away into the purple twilight.

For a second, Lady Lamorna considered frizzling the bat to a burnt ember as it flew, but then she remembered her delicious dress. With a smile of happy anticipation, she swept toward her treasure chest, flung open the lid . . . and SCREAMED!

They still talk about that scream in the high mountain village of Fracture. Dogs howled and bit their owners.

Cats' whiskers curled into corkscrews and fell off.

Children clutched their ears and shrieked in agony.

Only the old and extremely deaf were spared . . . the old, the extremely deaf, and Gracie Gillypot.

Gracie had been shut in her stepfather's cold, dark, and spidery cellar for being cheerful, and the cellar had very thick walls. Even in the cellar she heard a faint cry and wondered what it could be-but her ears did nothing worse than tingle. Her stepsister, Foyce, caught the full blast, and when Gracie was finally allowed out of the cellar, Foyce slapped her several times because her head felt as if it were full of stinging wasps, and she didn't like it.

Gubble, crouched only a few yards away from Lady Lamorna as she hit the highest and most piercing note of her scream, sighed heavily. He'd been the Lady's servant for more than 170 years, and he had heard her scream before. He knew what the scream meant. It meant trouble.

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