Terry Griggs, Author . Raincoast $7.95 (168p) ISBN 978-1-55192-350-5

A quaint setting, off-the-wall characterizations and a scavenger hunt plot fuel this work of literary prestidigitation from Canadian author Griggs. Book-loving Olivier suspects something fishy is going on in Cat's Eye Corner, which is "full of rooms and rooms—cavernous and tiny rooms, rooms deep in dust or clean as a newt, rooms misshapen or round or precisely square, rooms that themselves contained other rooms, as if they were alive and had children." Olivier stays at the strange old mansion belonging to his Gramps and his new wife, Sylvia de Whosit of Whatsit (whom Olivier's parents have labeled a witch) for summer break. Yet Inklings, a group of word-renovating and improvising tinkerers, wreak havoc at every turn. Because of them, his step-step-stepgramma's feline pets become poets and her words become gibberish: "You must fund [your grandfather] to fond out what you need to fend," she instructs, regarding the scavenger hunt Sylvia has planned to entertain him. Surprises abound as Olivier hunts for magical items through the "Drak Wuolds" (an enchanted forest), and offbeat characters people the pages, such as Olivier's 83-year-old "pen pal" ("I believe I have a book in me. Goodness, it's a tight fit"); Edgar, Allen and Poe, plus Eliot (as in T.S.) and Bliss, the mysterious pets-turned-poets; and others. The hero also helps a woodwose/hedge man find his "roots," leading to a new appreciation for words. Although fantasy fans may find the approach here a bit precious, avid readers may well get a kick out of the liberal literary allusions. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
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