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Twist it once, you're horned and haired;
Twist it twice and fangs are bared;
Twist it thrice? No one has dared!
Russell is sure that the ring is just a silly magic trick, but he follows the instructions and twists the ring twice anyway—and becomes a monster!
• ABA's Pick of the Lists
• Children's Choice Award Nominee (in four states)
• IRA Children's Choice
Author Biography: Bruce Coville is the bestselling author of dozens of books, including The Monsters of Morley Manor , Armageddon Summer (cowritten with Jane Yolen), The Skull of Truth, Jennifer Murdley’s Toad , and Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher. He lives in Syracuse, New York.
A timid boy, eager to frighten the school bully on Halloween night, acquires a magic ring and the power to change himself into a hideous monster.
The Magic Shop
Russell Crannaker glanced up and down the alley.
He was alone.
Perfect. He could practice in peace.
Putting up his arms, Russell staggered forward. He rolled back his eyes so only the whites were showing. Then he began to moan.
Fantastic! He was going to be great as Frankenstein's monster-the best ever.
Russell relaxed and grinned. Halloween should be all right this year after all.
He moaned and lurched forward again.
Frankenstein. Boy, would he love to actually be Frankenstein's monster for a while. Then he'd show that Eddie a thing or two. He could see it now: Eddie kneeling in front of him, whining, begging, pleading for mercy.
He could even hear Eddie's voice: "Please, Russell. Please don't hurt me. Please. Please!"
Russell smiled. It was a pleasant daydream. But his smile quickly turned to a frown.
Something was wrong.
Eddie was still talking!
"Oh, no! Save me, save me! It's the horrible Crankenstein! Hey, Crannaker, what's up? You lose your marbles?"
Russell opened his eyes and turned pale. Eddie, six inches taller than Russell and made mostly of mouth and muscle, was standing at the end of the alley. "Come here, twink," he sneered. "I'll make you really look like Frankenstein."
Russell started to shake. So far that day, Eddie had poked him, punched him, called him names, and smashed him in the face with a cream-filled cupcake. Under the circumstances, only one thing made sense.
Russell did it.
"Hey, Crannaker!" bellowed Eddie. "Whassa matter? You afraid?"
Afraid? Of course he was afraid! These days he lived in fear of what Eddie might do next.
He rounded the back corner of the alley and tripped over a row of garbage cans. One fell, spreading trash from wall to wall. Eddie, racing around the corner after him, struck something slimy and slid to his seat. "I'll get you for this, Crannaker!" he roared.
I've got to get out of here, Russell thought desperately. Got to get away...now!
He was off like a shot, barreling down some back street. Without thinking, without looking, he turned another corner, and then another.
Suddenly everything was quiet.
Russell stopped. Where was Eddie?
He looked around.
To his surprise, he was alone. Not only that, he was on a street that was completely new to him. That bothered him a little, but it was no real problem. He knew Kennituck Falls fairly well. He couldn't be far from a main street.
He walked to the next corner, figuring that would take him back to where he had started.
He turned right again-and then again. He was confused now. And scared. Not scared the way he had been when Eddie was after him. He was scared because Kennituck Falls was too small to get lost in....
It was starting to get dark. A fog began to rise, the mist curling around his feet like snakes made out of smoke.
Russell stopped again. He had reached a dead-end street. It was lined with shops he had never seen before. They were closed-all except one. Directly ahead of him, a light burning in its window, crouched a store that took his breath away. The sign in the curved window, written in old-fashioned letters, read:
ELIVES' MAGIC SUPPLIES
S. H. ELIVES, PROP.
Russell felt a surge of delight. He was crazy about magic anyhow. But in October, when it seemed as if anything could happen, he was consumed with a desire to experience it. His worries about being lost disappeared. He had to see what was in that shop!
He hurried forward. Through a window dark with the grime of years, he could see a crammed display of typical magician's stock: big decks of cards, top hats, Chinese rings, silk scarves. But there was more here-dark boxes with mysterious designs, capes with dragons on them, a skull with a candle on its top....
He loved it.
Glancing over his shoulder to make sure his enemy was nowhere in sight, he opened the door.
A small bell tinkled overhead as Russell stepped in. He looked around uncertainly. A sweet, mysterious aroma filled the air, but the shop was empty. Not only were there no other customers, there was not even a clerk in sight.
He didn't care; he was too thrilled by the contents of the place, which was jam-packed from top to bottom with magic equipment. The wall to his right held a section of live animals-doves and rabbits, mostly, for pulling out of hats, but also lizards, toads, and snakes.
I wonder what they're for, thought Russell.
Then his attention was attracted by a stack of books-old, leather-bound volumes with thick ridges on their spines. The top book on the pile was titled Mystery and Illusion. Beneath it was A Traveler's Guide to Other Worlds.
Just past the books, resting on a pair of dark red sawhorses, was a large box for the old trick of sawing someone in half.
Beyond the box, stretching across the back of the shop, was a long wooden counter with a dragon painted on its side.
On top of the counter sat an old-fashioned brass cash register.
On top of the cash register sat a stuffed owl.
At least, Russell thought the owl was stuffed-until it swiveled its head toward him. It blinked its brown-flower eyes, then uttered a low hoot.
From beyond the curtain that covered the door behind the counter came a voice that made Russell think of dead leaves scraping along the sidewalk in the October wind.
"Peace, Uwila. I know he's there."
A wrinkled hand pulled the curtain aside.
Out shuffled an old man.
Old? Ancient was more like it. His withered brown skin reminded Russell of dried mushrooms. He was shorter than Russell, and probably weighed less. Yet for some reason-maybe the eyes that glittered like black diamonds below his bristling brow-he seemed very, very strong. He walked around the counter and came to stand in front of Russell.
"Why are you here?"
Russell shivered. "I...I just came in to look around."
The old man shook his head. "Young man, no one comes in my shop just to 'look around.' Get to the point. What do you need?"
"Honestly, sir-I just came in to see what you have."
The old man arched one eyebrow and squinted his other eye shut. "Well, you've seen it. Now-what do you need?"
The tone of his voice made it clear to Russell that he had better need something.
He glanced around desperately.
"I don't even see any prices."
"How much money do you have?" asked the old man.
Fishing in his pocket, Russell found a crumpled dollar bill-lunch money he had saved by being too nervous to eat. "Just this. But I don't think-"
"That will be fine!" snapped the old man, snatching it away from him. "Stand still."
Russell looked at him in surprise.
"Quiet!" said the old man, though Russell had not spoken a word.
Russell stood as if frozen.
The old man stared at him, then closed his eyes and bent his head, almost as if he were listening to something. After a moment, he opened his eyes and said, "Wait here." Then he turned and disappeared back through the curtain.
Russell felt as if his feet had frozen to the floor; he couldn't have moved if he had tried.
After what seemed like hours, the old man reappeared, carrying a small box. "Here," he said, extending the box to Russell. "Take this. It's...what you came here to get."
Russell's fingers trembled as he held out his hand to accept the package.
The old man leaned even closer. Staring directly into Russell's eyes, speaking in a low hiss that made the boy feel as if a cold wind were running down his spine, he said, "For Ishtar's sake-be careful!"
Then he dropped the box into Russell's waiting fingers.
Russell looked around wildly. Through the front window he could see that it had gotten very dark outside.
"Take the side door," said the old man, gesturing to his right. "It will get you home more...quickly."
He began to laugh.
Russell spotted the small door at the side of the shop and bolted for it. To his astonishment, he found himself back in the alley where he had started.
For a moment, Russell thought he must have had some strange daydream, or even a hallucination.
Then he realized that he was clutching something in his hand.
Slowly, nervously, he opened his fingers.
Copyright © 2002, 1982 by Bruce Coville
Illustrations copyright © 1982 by Katherine Coville
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.
The Magic Shop 1
With a Twist of the Ring... 9
The Battle in the Cafeteria 16
Russell v. His Father's Mouth 25
Eddie's Revenge 31
Double Whammy 39
Russell Goes Berserk 47
The Beast Within 54
The Third Twist of the Ring 62
Russell to the Rescue 70
Return to the Magic Shop 83
Home Run 93
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR 103
Posted November 13, 2008
Poor Russell Crannaker is being bullied. He's being bullied at school by Eddie, and he feels bullied by his parents when he can't seem to get a word in at home. <BR/><BR/>When Russell is running away from Eddie one afternoon, he stumbles upon a mysterious shop: Mr. Elives magic shop. It's here that he finds the monster's ring. The ring Russell has just purchased is more than a ring -it can transform Russell into a monster. Russell loves monsters, so he enjoys becoming one with the turn of his ring. Plus, Halloween is coming up and transforming himself into a monster would be the best costume ever. <BR/><BR/>But being a monster is dangerous, and when Russell dares to turn the ring and transform into a monster again and again, he gets much more than fur and horns! <BR/><BR/>I have been a big fan of Bruce Coville since I was a child, so I was excited to see this series re-released. This book is the first in the MAGIC SHOP books and is the perfect treat for a funny, spooky read. The story was short, but it had just the right amount of humor and mystery. At the end, the book included a note from the author in which he mentioned he wrote THE MONSTER'S RING so he would have a great Halloween read. <BR/><BR/>I agree - this is the perfect Halloween, or anytime, read!
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Posted December 27, 2010
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