Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage by Kaye Umansky
Ten-year-old Clover Twig is a practical girl. She knows how to cook and clean and likes things neat and tidy. When she sees a classified ad for a housekeeper, she knows she is the girl for the job, even if it means moving in with the local witch, Demelza. Of course Clover Twig did not anticipate the many downsides to this job. Like the fact that this witch might be the most disorganized woman on the planet, or that a clumsy delivery boy would make her life difficult, or that a feud with Demelza’s evil sister – who has a PLAN – could put her in a lot of danger. This whimsical, exciting story will easily capture readers both young and old with its lighthearted magic and sense of humor. Johannah Wright’s wonderful illustrations are the icing on the cake. For sure, Clover Twig is a character you will not forget.
Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff
Lidie hasn’t cried since her father and brother left for America when she was seven. She has learned to be patient, living with her aunt and uncle in Brazil, waiting for the day her father would send for her. When he finally does, it’s not the reunion she expected. Her father and brother, who now work training racehorses, don’t know her like they used to. They think her favorite color is still pink and that she loves Snow White even though she’s now in sixth grade. Worst of all, they don’t realize she already knows how to ride a horse. School isn’t much better, since Lidie’s English is still pretty poor. But it is through Lidie’s connection with one special horse – Wild Girl – that she might finally find her way. Wild Girl is a beautifully written novel that transcends the notion of a “horse book” or an “immigrant family story.” It is as compelling as it is heartfelt, and readers will have to work hard not to identify with Lidie and her horses. The spirit of this book will stay with you.