Kennemore, Tim. Circle of doom. Illustrated by Tim Archbold. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. ISBN 0374312842. $16.00. 203 pp. Reviewer: Elizabeth Meyers; Reading Level: Intermediate, Young Adult; Rating: Outstanding; Genre: Fantasy fiction; Humorous stories; Contemporary realistic fiction; Subject: Magic--Juvenile fiction; Brothers and sisters--Juvenile fiction; Family life--England--Juvenile fiction; Book--Reviews; Lizzie Sharp is merely finding a way to vent her frustration when she creates a potion to drive away her family's unpleasant neighbors, the Potwards. However, when Mrs. Potward injures herself the very next day, obliging the elderly couple to move away, Lizzie becomes convinced she's a witch. With the help of her two younger brothers, Dan the skeptic and Max the youngest, Lizzie concocts a series of brews and wishes that seem to give quite satisfying results, including a hated teacher vomiting in class and the appearance of a very special bedspread. Of course, most of these could be explained away by mere coincidence...but could they really be...magic? Kennemore's delightfully British narrative is an entertaining exploration of the fine line between coincidence and magic. All of the things Lizzie's activities 'accomplished' could be explained away by chance, but there's always a lingering sense of "What if...?" One of the most delicious aspects of the book is the manner in which Kennemore renders her characters. (Yes, Tim Kennemore is a she.) Their reactions to the events of the novel and interaction with each other are realistic. Archbold's remarkably Quentin Blake-like illustrations at the beginning of each chapter add, subtly but significantly, to the text, creating an overall whole that is utterly enjoyable. Kennemore's fans will not be disappointed.
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