There’s a certain attractive ick factor about a girl who spews out toads every time she speaks, but is it enough to sustain a novel?
Since her mother, an astronaut, is in space, Cat has been sent to spend the rest of the school year with her father, his wife and her two step siblings. Olivia, aka Miss Prissy Pants, is her own age, and more likable Geoffrey is just 3. After ample angst—the two diametrically opposite girls can’t stand each other—and a visit from Cat’s decidedly odd great-aunt Abyssinia, the pair wake up with strange new problems. When Olivia opens her mouth, jewels and flower petals fall out, but poor Cat just produces toads. Geoffrey is kidnapped by someone eager to get at Olivia’s jewels, and the two girls are forced to flee, seeking some resolution for their multitude of issues. Can their related afflictions make them overcome their numerous differences? The saving grace, beyond the charming toads, is that Cat is very attractively mouthy, and her narration is fresh and funny. The pace never lets up, but only readers capable of truly suspending disbelief will buy the many convenient coincidences needed to make the plot work.
This appealing fairy tale is fun, fast paced and more than just a little bit foolish. (Fantasy. 10-15)