A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

320p. HarperCollins. Oct. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062371218.
Gr 4–7—A single narrator, using alternating chapters, tells the tale of two 12-year-old girls, each of whom has a strange experience with a magical book. Kai is visiting her unusual but lovable great-aunt Lavinia in Texas for the summer, and Leila is spending her summer in Pakistan, her father's birthplace. While unpacking in the guest room, Kai finds an old book titled The Exquisite Corpse. Excited to read it, she is disappointed that it contains an odd introduction and only one line of handwritten text: the name Ralph T. Flabbergast. Guided by some strange intuition, Kai inscribes the words was a complete fool after the name. Now, each time she opens the book, new lines of text appear. At the same time in Pakistan, Leila, who reads far too many romantic novels and is hoping for an "authentic cultural experience" in her father's land, discovers the very same text in her great-uncle's library. After an encounter with a beautiful moth, Leila is astounded to see new sentences appearing in her book. Back in Texas, Kai meets Doodle, a young girl out to catch the Celestial Moth, a creature rumored to be almost extinct. Her adventures with Doodle and their subsequent search for the elusive moth, as well as Leila's cultural gaffes, lead readers on a rollicking adventure, complete with a suspiciously operated casket company, a (sort of) pet goat, and an obsession with the TV show Pakistani Idol. In the meantime, the story of The Exquisite Corpse unfolds, telling a tale of forbidden love and magic. Engaging and appealing, especially to those who have never quite fit in, this novel is sure to satisfy.
VERDICT Hand this to readers who enjoy light fantasy and ample humor.

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