Toots Underground

Toots Underground

5.0 1
by Carol Hughes

View All Available Formats & Editions

Toots is having the worst spring vacation ever. She should be spending every minute playing with her best friend Jemma, but they’re having a fight. And there’s something wrong with Toots’s garden–it’s April, but none of the flowers have come up, and the branches of the chestnut tree are still bare. Toots sometimes hears mocking laughter


Toots is having the worst spring vacation ever. She should be spending every minute playing with her best friend Jemma, but they’re having a fight. And there’s something wrong with Toots’s garden–it’s April, but none of the flowers have come up, and the branches of the chestnut tree are still bare. Toots sometimes hears mocking laughter in the wind. If only she could talk to Jemma about it. . . .

In this magical sequel to Toots and the Upside-Down House, author Carol Hughes explores the meaning of true friendship and the healing power of forgiveness.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Toots is a young girl who embarks on a dangerous yet exciting adventure. Her fairy friends are insect sized creatures who live in an upside-down garden. You see, every house has an upside-down house and every street has an upside-down street. In Toot's upside down garden an evil and malicious waspgnat has been growing. Toot's old fairy friend Olive enlists her help in an attempt to save the fairies from the waspgnat and return the garden to its normal splendor. Toots encounters many challenges in her effort, but she also learns a lot about herself and about friendship. This is an imaginative and clever story that is gripping and fast moving. Young readers will surely have a hard time putting it down. It is the sequel to Toots and the Upside-Down House. 2001 (orig. 1998), Random House, $15.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Denise Daley
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Charlotte (aka Toots) is having a bad spring vacation. She has quarreled with her friend Jemma and, while all the neighborhood gardens are filled with flowers, hers is still barren. She has forgotten her visit to the Upside-Down World as related in Toots and the Upside-Down House (Random, 1997) until she encounters her fairy friend Olive in the dying garden. Olive summons Toots to the underground headquarters of the garden fairy militia that is fighting to save the garden from the vampirelike waspgnat. Although their magic is unable to defeat this monster, the fairy commander protests vehemently against involving a human. Toots's previous anger at Jemma is compounded by the commander's attitude. However, during the dangerous search for the waspgnat's lair, she becomes aware that the evil being is feeding on her negative emotions and realizes that, unless she can subdue her resentment and be reconciled with her friend, the waspgnat will triumph. This fantasy incorporates a worthwhile message about tolerance and understanding. It seems a bit extreme to attribute so much potential devastation to one child's influence, but Toots's emotions are portrayed authentically. Her ultimate triumph over the waspgnat (and herself) is expected but satisfying. While certainly not as original as such classic "small world" stories as Mary Norton's The Borrowers (Harcourt, 1953), this story could fill a need where there is a strong demand for fantasy for younger readers.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Hughes fails to deliver on a promising premise in this thin sequel to Toots and the Upside-Down House (1997). Once again, young Toots shrinks down to combat Evil with her rotund, fly-sized fairy friend Olive. A malicious waspgnat is choking the entire garden with thorny, fast-growing underground furze, and the fairies are powerless to stop it. Only Toots-who, as it eventually turns out, was responsible for attracting it in the first place with ungenerous thoughts-can overcome the waspgnat, by destroying the jewel-like "olm" that is the root of its power. After a tedious plot padded with a pointless scene in which Toots temporarily forgets her mission, extraneous encounters with a pair of maggots who Won't Grow Up, and much aimless wandering through worm tunnels, Toots at last does the deed. She silently forgives her friend Jemma for having a secret, which Hughes never does get around to revealing. Talk about anticlimactic. The waspgnat makes a thoroughly nasty adversary, but its vanquishing is so contrived and long in coming that fans of Hughes's pageturner Jack Black and the Ship of Thieves (2000) will wonder if the same author wrote both. (Fiction. 10-12)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Toots Books
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

One bright, blustery April afternoon, Toots sat on the swing in her garden and shivered. Even though the sun was shining, a wintry wind rattled through the fence. It screamed across the lawn and shook the bare branches of the horse chestnut tree and sometimes it sounded as though it was laughing - a nasty, high-pitched laugh. Toots zipped up her jacket and shivered again.

She grabbed hold of the swing's ropes, pressed her bottom back against the seat, and kicked off. By stretching her legs out in front of her, then folding them back in, she swung higher and higher toward the sky.

From the swing Toots could see Jemma's house. Jemma had been Toots's best friend ever since she'd moved into the house across the street, but since Christmas Jemma had been acting strangely and Toots didn't like it. Jemma would promise to come over to play and then wouldn't, or she'd plan to go to the beach with Toots and then at the last minute say she couldn't go.

Then there was yesterday, the day of the car wash. Toots pushed the swing higher. Washing cars to make extra pocket money had been all Jemma's idea in the first place, and together they'd arranged to wash six neighbors' cars. But yesterday morning Jemma had mysteriously disappeared, and Toots had had to wash all the cars by herself. It had taken her till teatime.

Then this morning when Jemma had come round, she hadn't offered an explanation. She hadn't said she was sorry. She just acted as though nothing had happened. And when Toots asked her where she'd been, Jemma had just shrugged and shifted from foot to foot, then tried to change the subject.

"Do you want to come to my house and play?" Jemma had asked. But Toots had shaken her head.

"No. My dad wants me to stay in," Toots had lied. "Bye." Toots had shut the front door and watched through the peephole as Jemma crossed the road to her house.

Toots leaned back on the swing. She turned her face to the sky and tried not to think about Jemma. Instead, she focused on the horse chestnut tree. There was something so sad about it. It should have been in bud, but there wasn't a new leaf in sight. The bare branches reached out forlornly to the April sky as though they were searching for spring.

It wasn't just the tree, Toots realized. The whole garden was still bare, even though she and her father had planted hundreds of bulbs. In all the other gardens on their street, spring flowers were already nodding beneath the trees, but in Toots's garden there wasn't a crocus, nor a daffodil, nor a tulip, nor a hyacinth to be seen.

Toots's father had been so worried that he'd asked Mr. Phelps, the tree surgeon, to come and take a look. Toots had stood beside her father while Mr. Phelps, a tall man with a long red nose and bright eyes, had examined the roots, trunk, branches, and twigs of the horse chestnut tree.

He'd jabbed a stick into the soil at the foot of the tree and stared down into the hole he'd made. His sharp blue eyes seemed to burn into the earth as though he could see right through the hard brown dirt to the layers below.

"This tree's dying, all right," he'd said, patting the trunk with the flat of his hand. He crouched down and picked up a pinch of soil. He rubbed it in his fingers and sniffed it, then dropped it and stood up. "It looks like the roots are poisoning the whole garden. That's why nothing's coming up anywhere."

"Can you do anything to save it?" Toots's dad asked.

"The tree?" Mr. Phelps shook his head. "The garden, maybe, but the tree will have to come down, and the sooner the better. It’s a shame to loose such a beauty.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Carol Hughes was born in Yorkshire, England, and grew up in a seaside town in Lancashire. She now lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Toots Underground 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago