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Children's Literature Reviews
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The Boggart
Susan Cooper.
Contributor biographical information
Publisher description
New York : M.K. McElderry Books ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, c1993.
196 p. ; 22 cm.


After visiting the castle in Scotland which her family has inherited and returning home to Canada, twelve-year-old Emily finds that she has accidentally brought back with her a boggart, an invisible and mischievous spirit with a fondness for practical jokes.

Best Books:

Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 1993 ; American Library Association; United States
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Children's Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Horn Book Fanfare, 1993 ; Horn Book; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, 1993 ; United States
Lasting Connections, 1993 ; American Library Association; United States
Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 1994 ; NCTE Children's Literature Assembly; United States
Notable Children's Books, 1994 ; Association for Library Service to Children; United States
School Library Journal Best Books, 1993 ; Cahners; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award, 1994 Winner Middle Grade Readers United States
Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children's Literature, 1994 Winner California United States
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature, 1996 Finalist Children's Literature United States

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

California Young Reader Medal, 1996 ; Nominee; Middle School/Junior High; California
Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award Reading List, 1995-1996 ; Nominee; Arkansas
Flicker Tale Children's Book Award, 1995 ; Nominee; Juvenile Fiction; North Dakota
Golden Sower Award, 1996 ; Nominee; Intermediate; Nebraska
Great Stone Face Award, 1994-1995 ; Nominee; New Hampshire
Great Stone Face Award, 1995-1996 ; Nominee; New Hampshire
Indian Paintbrush Book Award, 1995 ; Nominee; Wyoming
Iowa Children's Choice Award, 1995-1996 ; Nominee; Iowa
Voice of Youth Award, 2001-2002 ; Nominee; 5th and 6th Grade; Illinois

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 6.1
Accelerated Reader Points 8
Accelerated Vocabulary, Literacy Skills

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 3-5
Reading Level 7
Title Point Value 12
Lexile Measure 1030


Stephanie Zvirin (Booklist, Jan. 15, 1993 (Vol. 89, No. 10))
In this winning mixture of fantasy and reality, Cooper shows us that ancient magic and computers aren't as far apart as we might think. When 12-year-old Emily Volnik receives the desk she sent back to her Canadian home from Castle Keep, the Scottish castle her family inherited from a distant relative, she has no idea that opening it will loose the Boggart, a mischievous spirit who's lived in the castle for centuries. But liberate him she does, and his contact with the modern-day world and with Emily and her younger brother, Jess, leads to all kinds of humorous and dramatic consequences--not the least of which is unpleasant Dr. Stigmore's theory that the onset of Emily's puberty has caused her to become psychokinetic. Emily and Jess eventually endear themselves to us, but it's the Boggart--who loves peanut butter and ice cream and the joy of turning people's lives upside down--who's the real charmer here. Like a mischievous child, too young to realize the consequences of actions, the Boggart is maddening and endearing in the same breath, and when he returns to his castle home, readers will miss him every bit as much as Jess and Emily will. Category: Middle Readers. 1993, Macmillan/Margaret K. McElderry, $14.95. Gr. 4-6.

Susie Wilde (Children's Literature)
The author, best known for her "Dark is Rising" series, blends fantasy and reality in her newest novel. A mischievous spirit is transported from his Scottish castle to the Canadian home of two young adolescents, one of whom is a computer genius. Old magic and new technology mingle with mystery, suspense, humor and messages about pompous adults who wrongly judge kids in the throes of adolescence. 1993, McElderry Books, $15.00 and $3.95. Ages 9 up.

CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1993)
In a deft meshing of ancient magic and modern culture, the lives of three contemporary children become entangled with the Boggart, a mischievous spirit from the Western Highlands of Scotland. Inadvertently transported from Scotland to the U.S.A., the Boggart makes his American debut with small tricks: hiding hockey sticks and hats, rearranging bookshelves and filling the sugar bowl with salt. But in a country which has forgotten the Wild Magic, the Boggart's antics cause tension instead of the usual Scottish tolerance. Bewildered by the many differences of his new home, the Boggart is amazed by the unfamiliar, but when he begins toying with traffic signals and streetcar wires, his innocent pranks become dangerous. This story of the collision of magic with mundane life satisfyingly concludes in an imaginative but believable mix of fantasy and computer technology. CCBC categories: Fiction For Children. 1993, McElderry Books, 196 pages, $18.95. Ages 9-12.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1993)
In Cooper's classic The Dark is Rising cycle, Will Stanton, an ordinary boy, is also one of the powerful "Old Ones" engaged in the age-old struggle against evil. Now, in a longawaited return, Cooper turns to a different representative of the "Old Magic": a homely mischief-maker. From time immemorial, the invisible Boggart has lived in a Scottish castle, enjoying the sport of teasing and mystifying each new human occupant before settling down to his own peculiar brand of an affectionate relationship. The latest heir is a Canadian theater director, who brings his children (Jessup and Emily) for a brief visit before the castle is sold. Between long naps in odd corners, the Boggart makes himself known with baffling pranks--inventive but never malicious; when he curls up to snooze in a desk, he's accidentally shipped to Toronto, where he makes some delightful discoveries (pizza, peanut butter) but also tangles with modern technology, which--though it can marvelously enhance his tricks (notably, when he invades the theater's computer-run lights) leads to some dangerously unpredictable results. Cleverly getting into Jessup's computer, he manages to deliver a time-honored message: he wants to go home. A comfortably old-fashioned story, told with Cooper's usual imagination and grace: the Boggart is entrancing--a magically witty mix of fey spirit, comfort-loving eat, old man set in his ways, and child taking gleeful delight in his own mischief--of which there is plenty, all splendidly comical. 1993, McElderry, $14.95. Starred Review. © 1993 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
The Boggart, a Scottish spirit delighting in practical jokes, is ``one of the Old Things of the world'' and belongs ``to the cold separate heart of the Wild Magic.'' When the Volniks, a Canadian family, inherit the castle where the Boggart has lived for centuries, the shape-shifting mischief maker is accidentally transported to Toronto, where he discovers greater opportunities for trickery than he has ever imagined. Much gentle slapstick ensues when the ancient being visits Mrs. Volnik's antique shop and the theater run by Mr. Volnik. It falls to the Volnik children, Emily and Jessup, to befriend the prankster and send him home. Although far more lightheartedly, this boisterous romp draws upon the same powerful pre-Christian magic at the heart of Cooper's well-known Dark Is Rising sequence. Aside from all that is amusing and spooky, this tale offers a firmly grounded and utterly non-didactic introduction to some of the differences between the Old World and the New. Ages 9-12. (Feb.)

Betsy Hearne (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March 1993 (Vol. 46, No. 7))
The Boggart is an invisible, indestructible Celtic mischief maker who becomes wary of attachment to those whom he is bound to outlive. When the last MacDevon clan chief dies and leaves his crumbling castle to his heirs, a Canadian family named Volnik, the Boggart gets trapped in a desk shipped from Scotland. His ancient presence in a modern world electrifies (literally) Emily and Jessup Volnik's lives until they finally figure out what he is and how to ship him back home in a computer game that could either save or lose him forever. Cooper's careful groundwork in establishing contrasted settings of a Scottish loch and a modern city, her sure quickstudies of the inhabitants, and her overlay of the mechanical and the emotional make this an absorbing but sharp departure from her more formal Dark Is Rising series. The scene in which the Boggart creates havoc and then art by manipulating the keyboard for lighting a Shakespeare play casts a real spell, while a psychiatrist's subscribing to the supernatural in "exorcising" Emily's "anger" (how else to account for the household chaos?) satirizes bogus magic, not to mention bogus publicity. Dr. Stigmore is a bit of contrived villainy that breaks tone with the rest of the book, but young readers steeped in Stephen King culture may, in fact, appreciate him as slapstick humor. Using both electronics and theater as metaphors for magic, Cooper has extended the world of high fantasy into contemporary children's lives through scenes superimposing the ordinary and the extraordinary; children will return the compliment by considering anew the possibilities of both. R--Recommended. Reviewed from galleys (c) Copyright 1993, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1993, McElderry, [208p], $14.95. Grades 5-7.

Gary D. Schmidt (The Five Owls, May/June 1993 (Vol. 7, No. 5))
More than fifteen years have passed since the final volume of The Dark Is Rising sequence was published, and a full decade since Susan Cooper's last fantasy, Seaward. Those eagerly awaiting Cooper's return to this genre will not be disappointed with The Boggart. Like her earlier novels, this one fuses the experience of contemporary children with ancient mythic creatures--here the invisible and spirited Boggart, who loves to sleep and make mischief on the inhabitants of Castle Keep. In despair over the death of the last Scottish owner of the castle, the Boggart has gone to sleep, only to be awakened by the noise and bustle of the castle's new owners, a family from Toronto. They, however, cannot keep the castle and have come only to arrange for its sale. When they ship some of the castle's furniture back to Toronto, the Boggart is accidentally shipped along. Once in Toronto, he finds an entirely new world, and he stays close to the children. Though Jessup and Emily come to recognize his presence, their parents, having grown up in a world where the Old Magic has been discounted, grope for other explanations of the strange tricks being played on the family. It is left to the children to find a way to return the Boggart to his Scottish home, for which he yearns. The distinction between the scientific realism of the modern world and the imaginative possibilities of the Old Magic dominate the novel, and the successful resolution of the Boggart's dilemma in fact rests upon the successful union of the new technology with the Old Magic. But this is a fragile and tenuous union; those familiar with Cooper's abilities to generate suspense will anticipate the power of her final scenes, where the Boggart must take a chance with what he perceives to be modern magic in order to return home. Unlike The Dark Is Rising or Silver on the Tree, The Boggart is not dominated by the high seriousness of the quest, or the battle between good and evil. The tone is much lighter and even at times comic. Yet at the same time Cooper is able to make rich distinctions between the bustle of Toronto and the quiet of Scotland, between the new technology and the Old Magic, between imagination and pseudo-scientific pretension. Cooper is able to achieve these different effects by working from the perspective of not only the children, but also the Boggart. The result is a delightful and quick read, with a conclusion perhaps not as high and noble and cosmic as that of Silver on the Tree but in its own way just as satisfying and just as complete. 1993, McElderry, $14.95. Ages 9 up.


Magic Fiction.
Humorous stories.
Scotland Fiction.
Canada Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.C7878 Bo 1993
92015527 [Fic]
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