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The Wizard, the Witch and Two Girls From Jersey
Lisa Papademetriou
Penguin Razorbill, 288 pages

The Wizard, the Witch and Two Girls From Jersey
Lisa Papademetriou
Lisa Papademetriou started working in children's publishing as an intern at the Horn Book Magazine and Guide, while still a junior at Vassar College. Upon graduation, she moved to Guatemala City and taught high school English in a bilingual school. When she returned to the United States, she accepted a job as an editorial assistant at Scholastic, Inc., and has since worked in an editorial capacity at 17th Street Productions, HarperCollins Publishers, and Disney Press. She has written over 30 books for young readers, including the Candy Apple title, How to be a Girly Girl in Just Ten Days. She lives in Northhampton, Massachusetts with her husband.

Lisa Papademetriou Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dan Shade

In the tradition of National Lampoon's Bored of the Rings, William Goldman's The Princess Bride and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure comes a fantasy novel that equals them all. The Wizard, the Witch & Two Girls from Jersey has all the elements of a good fantasy novel and all the fun of a roller-coaster-ride.

Our main players, Veronica and Heather, are two very different girls. Veronica comes from a very close family. She studies hard, keeps to herself and wears jeans and t-shirts. Heather comes from a family, which hardly notices her. She is all about makeup and clothes -- looking right is everything to Heather. These two very different girls find themselves magically transported into a fantasy novel through the malfunction of a bookstore price scanner.

Two Girls takes place in a novel entitled Queen of Twilight (the book seems so real I even looked for it). Our girls are in the same English class and both have put off the book assignment to the last minute. The only difference is that Veronica has read this book eight times and Heather has never read it at all. In fact, Veronica is a girl after my own heart. She reads fantasy novels all the time. Heather never reads. Veronica can't find her copy and the two girls find themselves in the same bookstore struggling over the last copy of Queen of Twilight. While they struggle for the book, the barcode scanner flares and our two girls from Jersey find themselves strangers in a strange land. What was carpet is now moss and there is a strange cast to the light. It appears to be twilight everywhere.

Thus begins Veronica and Heather's journey within the novel. It takes Heather much longer to accept that they are indeed in another world but eventually the two girls begin to work as a team. Nevertheless, the very first thing Heather does is accidentally cause the death of the true princess Arabelle. Later Heather is assumed to be Princess Arabelle, or the One, by the Wizard Strathorn. As Heather matures she begins to stop denying she is Princess Arabelle and takes on her destiny with Veronica's steady hand nearby. Together, with the help of a Keebler Elf (you know, the elves famous for their cookies), they fight side-by-side through to the end of the book. Indeed, the three become dear friends by that time.

I know I said elsewhere that I'd never had as much fun as reading Singing the Dogstar Blues but I was wrong. Two Girls is more than just a parody of epic fantasies; it is itself a decent fantasy novel. I chuckled all they way through as the author poked fun at The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars (to name a few). I was also glued to the story because it had believable characters and a gripping plot. Lisa Papademetriou has shown us that parody can make a serious statement about topics such as growing up and embracing adult responsibility.

The author must be given extra credit for creating a new breed of enemy -- the Ookie. Ookies are repulsive, little, green men who all seem to look like Gollum. Then there are the Keebler elves, never before seen in a fantasy novel. And then there is the chapter where Redwood meets Macbeth. Not only do the trees take part in the final battle but so do the shrubs, moss, squirrels, moles, etc. Every living thing makes an attack on the Queen's stronghold. I suppose the moles have the best success, as they are able to cause castle walls to tumble down.

Probably the least memorable character is the squirrel, Chattergee. He does indeed chatter a great deal about his heroic traits and, in the face of battle, runs and hides. He is a constant nuisance and is meant to be the traditional sidekick. Be that as it may, it is Chattergee who calls all the forest to fight in the battle against the Queen of Twilight.

There is so much more to this novel and I'm already afraid I given away too much of the story. I would place this novel very high on my favorites list. It ends with an excellent twist of fate. Not everyone rides off into the sunset and not everyone goes home. I recommend this book without reservation to anyone 12 and up.

(This review first appeared on Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show.)

Copyright © 2010 by Dan Shade

Dan Shade is a retired college professor who loves to read young adult science fiction, fantasy, and horror. But he doesn't draw the line there. He also enjoys writing science fiction and hopes to publish someday. In the meantime, you can find him at (under construction).

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