Book: The Rosemary Spell
Author: Virginia Zimmerman
Age Range: 10-12
The Rosemary Spell is a deliciously creepy supernatural mystery centered around a love of books. Only child Rosemary has grown up spending most of her time with her best friend Adam and Adam's older sister, Shelby. The three of them have always shared in particular a love of books, with Shelby the discoverer of many classics enjoyed by all three kids. Now, as Adam and Rosie hit middle school, Shelby is starting to pull away, drawn into activities and older friends. When Adam and Rosie discover an ancient book, however, a book with peculiar properties, it is Shelby who is endangered. Rosemary and Adam end up racing against the clock and tracking down clues from Shakespeare in an attempt to save her.
My favorite things about this book are:
- The way that all of the main characters live and breathe books.
- The friendship between Adam and Rosie, in particular the way that the length of time they've been friends enhances their relationship, as well as the way they are (mostly) loyal to one another.
- The inclusion of a dynamic and engaging teacher for Adam and Rosie (a school project forms a key part of the story).
- Adam's somewhat OCD personality (he has a compulsive need to put things in order, and has to have all of his food separated). He's not stated as having obsessive compulsive disorder, or being on the autism spectrum, but he's definitely a bit outside of the mainstream. I also love how Rosie accepts him for who he is, just as he accepts that she won't, for example, be nearly as tidy as he is.
- The close relationship between Rosie and her single mother, portrayed even as Rosie doesn't let her mother in on the mystery.
- The inclusion of visits to an elderly poet living with Alzheimers Disease in a local nursing home.
Here are a couple of quotes to give you a feel for the book:
"There's one shelf. On the shelf is a book. An old book.
A secret, ancient book! Authors I love appear in my mind. E. Nesbit leaps up and down with excitement, and J. K. Rowling raises an eyebrow." (Page 18)
"Sometimes I recognize younger Adams in his face. The one that looks at me now, all eager and earnest, is about five and sincerely believe that we can build a secret tunnel between our houses. Adam's faith that people might leave ancient books hidden in cupboards for future generations to find is infectious. I believe he could be right." (Page 24)
"Mom and I make dinner together and read a little on the couch before bed. I nudge her toes with mine. She looks up, in that daze of being lost in a book.
"We're sifting words." I echo Constance.
Delight breaks her daze. "Together." (Page 94)
The Rosemary Spell is a musing on memory and friendship, wrapped into a suspenseful adventure, laced through with poetry. It has a little something for everyone, and would make a great addition to any classroom, school, or public library serving 10 to 12 year olds. I would have absolutely adored it as a 10 year old, and read in a single day as an adult. Highly recommended, especially for fans of books, mysteries, or magic.
Publisher: Clarion Books (@HMHKids)
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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