A Tale of Two Castles

A Tale of Two Castles

4.5 63
by Gail Carson Levine, Greg Call
     
 

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Newbery Honor author of Ella Enchanted Gail Carson Levine weaves a spellbinding tale about a clever heroine, a dragon detective, and a shape-shifting ogre.

Newly arrived in the town of Two Castles, Elodie unexpectedly becomes the assistant to a brilliant dragon named Meenore, and together they solve mysteries. Their most important case concerns the

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Overview

Newbery Honor author of Ella Enchanted Gail Carson Levine weaves a spellbinding tale about a clever heroine, a dragon detective, and a shape-shifting ogre.

Newly arrived in the town of Two Castles, Elodie unexpectedly becomes the assistant to a brilliant dragon named Meenore, and together they solve mysteries. Their most important case concerns the town’s shape-shifting ogre, Count Jonty Um: Someone is plotting against him. Elodie must disguise herself to discover the source of the threat amid a cast of characters that includes a greedy king, a giddy princess, and a handsome cat trainer.

Readers who loved Ella Enchanted and Fairest will delight in this tale of a spirited heroine who finds friendship where she least expects it and discovers that goodness and evil come in all shapes and sizes.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this fairy-tale whodunit, country girl Elodie's parents scrounge up fare to send her to the city of Two Castles, with instructions to find a weaver willing to take her on gratis for a 10-year apprenticeship. (Elodie, intent on joining a theatrical troupe, has other ideas.) Alas, months earlier the guilds abolished 10-year apprenticeships; now everyone must pay, and Elodie's one copper is stolen (by a cat) the moment she draws it from her purse. With no other prospects, she takes the only job she is offered: assistant to the dragon Meenore, who, in addition to its skills as mobile water heater, has a sideline as local detective. Elodie must overcome her fear of being eaten to help Meenore save another hated local—Count Jonty Um, the ogre who occupies one of the town's two castles. With a faint echo of Puss in Boots, Carson crafts a persuasive fantasy realm and a capable heroine. Readers should enjoy watching Elodie hone her powers of deduction to unravel the mystery of the ogre's sudden disappearance, and will likely anticipate further sleuthing adventures with this companionable duo. Ages 8–12. (May)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Praise for Ever:“The striking beauty of the Mediterranean-like landscape sets the stage for heroic quests and romantic picnics, adding atmosphere to this compelling tale.”
ALA Booklist
Praise for Fairest:“[Readers will] sink into the fairy-tale romance, the remarkable characters, and the wild, magical adventures.”
Booklist
Praise for Ever:“An action-packed love story set in an elaborate, challenging world, this richly imagined story will engage fantasy and romance readers alike.”
Booklist (starred review)
Praise for Ella Enchanted:“As finely designed as a tapestry, with a heroine so spirited that she wins readers’ hearts.”
The Horn Book
“Levine’s strength lies in her transparent language and the candid, uncomplicated voice of her narrator, who brings younger readers along with her as she questions assumptions, grows in friendship, works out the mystery, and makes brave escapes.”
Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
Twelve-year-old Elodie is sent by boat from her home to Lepai during Guild Week to apprentice as a weaver. Elodie, however, has another desire: to become a mansioner (travelling actress), for which she has trained with her Albin, her parent's farmhand who used to mansion. She's not ashore long before learning that free apprenticeships no longer exist and before losing her money to a thieving cat. She wanders around and begins to learn about the town and its people. (A map in the front of the book helps the reader place her in and around town.) She meets a feared, shape-shifting ogre, a goodwife, several merchants, a cat trainer, and Meenore, a food merchant and amateur detective who understands the value of deduction, induction, and common sense. He recognizes that Elodie's mansioning skills of imitation and observation could serve him well and employs her to help him protect Count Jonty Um, the kind-hearted, but hated, ogre and find his missing, beloved dog. Elodie discovers Lepai has several mysteries and become entangled in solving them and uncovering the white sepulcher, a person who is outwardly beautiful and good but is actually evil. Levine has drawn some marvelous, multi-faceted characters: Elodie is a strong female, loyal and loving. Meenore is quirky and fun, pushing Elodie to make sense of what she sees and hears. Count Jonty Um is the antithesis of the villainous ogre but can't make the villagers believe it. The King is selfish, the princess odd, and Thiel such a mix that Elodie alternately trusts and questions him. The fear, ignorance, and greed of the townspeople make them the monsters while the dragon and ogre are sympathetic and dependable. The mystery keeps the reader guessing right to the end. As always, Levine gets all the details right—masterfully describing the town, its inhabitants, their dress, castle life, dirt and lice, and the old art of mansioning. This interesting and fun mix of fantasy and mystery should be popular with middle readers. Reviewer: Peg Glisson
Kirkus Reviews

A thoroughly delicious romp from the author of Ella Enchanted (1997). Before Lodie leaves the island of Lahnt, her mother warns her to beware ogres, dragons and "the whited sepulcher" (a villain who appears virtuous) in the big town of Two Castles; she inevitably meets all three, encountering danger and friendship where least expected. Lodie's parents send her away to become a weaver, but the girl plans to become a "mansioner" (actor), like her brother Albin. When she cannot secure a free apprenticeship, she finds herself working for the enigmatic dragon Masteress Meenore, a food vendor and amateur detective.Lodie soon employs her imitative and observational mansioning skills—and Meenore's lessons in "deduction, induction, and common sense"—to investigate thefts and threats at ogre Count Jonty Um's royalty-crowded castle. When local prejudices and political intrigue throw the court into an uproar, Lodie must solve the many mysteries or face execution. Fairy tales and classic myths are cleverly woven into the story, but the gritty medieval conditions—poverty, hunger, lice and cruel nobles—provide the dramatic tension and realistic motivation for the adventurous and intelligent Lodie. The plot is winningly unpredictable, the characters easy to relate to, the humor subtle and the action well-paced. Newbery Honor–winner Levine has once again breathed new life into old stories. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Praise for Ever:“The striking beauty of the Mediterranean-like landscape sets the stage for heroic quests and romantic picnics, adding atmosphere to this compelling tale.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Praise for Ever:“The striking beauty of the Mediterranean-like landscape sets the stage for heroic quests and romantic picnics, adding atmosphere to this compelling tale.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—When 12-year-old Elodie leaves her family farm for the capital city of Two Castles, she intends to apprentice herself to a mansioner, as actors are called. However, as she has no money for an apprenticeship, she goes to work for a clever if cantankerous dragon named Meenore, who instructs her in solving mysteries using induction, deduction, and common sense. Elodie's first big case is to try to figure out who is stealing from and threatening the life of the town's ogre, Count Jonty Um. There are so many suspects, and no one is quite the individual he or she seems; it takes all of Elodie's new skills to keep the Count—and herself—from harm. Although warned about dragons and ogres, Meenore and Jonty Um become Elodie's closest friends. Meenore, whose gender is unknown and so must be referred to as IT, is prickly but steadfast, and shy Jonty Um is hugely troubled by how much everyone hates and fears him. Other characters, such as the gorgeous cat trainer Count Thiel and the dithering Princess Renn, are also fascinatingly unpredictable. Elodie, luckily, is sensible and reliable through and through (if inclined to the dramatic side of life). Readers are certain to be pulled, like Elodie herself, right into the midst of the rich and swirling life of Two Castles.—Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061229657
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/10/2011
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,476,529
Product dimensions:
5.64(w) x 8.54(h) x 1.09(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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