An utterly likable narrator gives a boost to Vande Velde's (Heir Apparent) charming and funny fantasy. Fifteen-year-old Wendy is plucky and upbeat despite having a "figure like a duffel bag" and being practically blind without her glasses. When a bully breaks her glasses at school, she resorts to wearing a pair of prescription sunglasses she found on her lawn-which, coincidentally, are a perfect match for her eyes. But the glasses do more than let her see: when she wears them, dead people talk to her, and Tiffanie, the prettiest girl in school turns into "the ugliest person in the world." The spectacles also reveal portals to a parallel world, one in which two elf brothers fight for the throne-and the son of one of them is living in the human world as Julian, on whom Wendy might just have a crush (though her glasses reveal his long, pointed ears). A time portal introduces her to her grandmother as a girl, who joins Wendy in her effort to rescue the recently imperiled Julian; they are aided by Tiffanie (the beautiful/ugly girl from Wendy's class), who turns out to be anything but a normal student. The plot playfully wanders all over the map; readers will likely get just as much enjoyment from Wendy's sly and self-deprecating humor as from the whimsical adventure itself. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, January 2005: Vande Velde is known for the fun and fantasy of her work, and her new novel follows in that vein. Wendy finds an unusual pair of sunglasses lying on her front lawn and with them she begins to see all sorts of things, including dead people, witches and an archway that leads to a parallel universe, one in which a prince is in great trouble. The glasses allow her to see that what she sees is not always what she thinks she sees. Wendy and her friend Shelley are typical high school sophomores, with crushes on classmates; now she is asked to save the elf prince. Her mother has remarried and along with a stepfather she has a "perfect" stepsister. She also has an attitude that is sly and witty and sometimes wrong, creating trouble with the authority figures in her real life and in Kazaran Dahaani. Her biggest point of contention in real life is a grandmother with Alzheimer's: why visit a woman who does not remember you? All these threads??the elf prince, the danger, the witch and the grandmother??are neatly interwoven into an impossible journey that rings true. KLIATT Codes: JSRecommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Harcourt, Magic Carpet, 273p., Ages 12 to 18.
With her customary wry humor and fast-paced storytelling, Vande Velde propels a myopic, unhappy teen into other times and worlds. Stunned to discover that one popular classmate, Tiphanie, is actually a hideous old witch (in trendy teen clothing-just picture it) hiding behind a glamour, and another, Julian, is an elf prince in disguise, Wendy flees through a suddenly visible gate into the elven land of Kazaran Dahaani. She stays just long enough to see Julian captured by thugs, then stumbles back into her own world-only it's 1953. There, she falls in with her own grandma, Helen, and in no time (so to speak) finds herself a reluctant member of a rescue expedition, following Helen, Tiphanie, and Henry-a tiny, compulsively mischievous "spreenie" with a big libido and a small attention span-to a dragon's cave where Julian has been caged. A brisk but nonfatal dustup ensues, after which Wendy gets back to her old life, now better able to cope with her mother's remarriage, and her grandma's Alzheimer's. Readers will be more captivated by the deliciously twisty plot and lively supporting cast, though, than by Wendy's personal issues. (Fantasy. 11-13)
"Delightful . . . Vande Velde's sly humor and snappy dialogue make this story a joy to read."--School Library Journal
"[A] charming and funny fantasy . . . The plot playfully wanders all over the map; readers will likely get just as much enjoyment from Wendy's sly and self-deprecating humor as from the whimsical adventure itself."--Publishers Weekly