The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel (Poppy Pendle #3)

by Natasha Lowe (Author)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade
Series: Poppy Pendle

Penderwicks meets Edward Eager in this moving story "that will remind readers of Roald Dahl's Matilda" (School Library Journal) about a young witch found in a flowerpot who embarks on a journey to discover her roots.

The morning Nora Ratcliff finds a baby in the flowerpot on her front steps her life changes forever. She had always wanted a child, but after her husband passed away, Nora never thought it would be possible. She decides to name her miracle flowerpot child Mabel, and as Mabel grew up, she showed a distinct talent for magic.

When Mabel is accepted to the prestigious witch school, Ruthersfield Academy, she excels at the curriculum, especially magic, but is constantly in trouble for experimenting and inventing her own potions. One day she is asked to write a paper on the origin of her magical roots and discovers the truth about her birth after a mean classmate blurts out what everyone seems to know--except Mabel. Mabel is shocked but the revelation does explain a lot. In an act of rebellion,

Mabel changes her name to Magnolia and sets out to learn why she was left in the flowerpot and who her birth family might be. Will Mabel find the answers she's looking for--or will she discover that families are people who love and look out for each other--and that's most important of all.

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School Library Journal

Gr 4-7—Mabel Ratcliff, the witchy great-great-grandmother of Cat (The Courage of Cat Campbell), stars in her own book about resourcefulness and feminism. It's 1881, and Nora Ratcliff, a widow, finds baby Mabel in a flowerpot by her door. Nora falls in love with Mabel, only later discovering that Mabel is a witch. Nora enrolls Mabel in Ruthersfield Academy, a magical school where her innovative spells challenge her teachers' unshakable adherence to rules and traditions. Mabel argues that girls should ride broomsticks astride for safety and brainstorms magical solutions to everyday problems like her housemaid's brittle hair. When the Society of Forward Thinking Witches sponsors a competition for a useful household spell, Mabel's clever idea and the machinations of her archenemy Winnifred make for a disastrous magical muddle that Mabel must unravel. Lowe taps into relevant themes for today's youth with her characterization of Mabel as an inventor and an agent of social change. Through Mabel's trials and errors, Lowe subtly impresses upon readers the ideas that trying and failing can lead to genius and that one should never abandon one's convictions because of others' opinions. Through the lens of the suffrage movement, Lowe also examines the so-called proper roles of women. The subplot involving the restrictive Nanny Grimshaw seems extraneous to the story, further delineating Mabel as a figure of pity and oppression. The historical setting may narrow the audience slightly, but Mabel's high jinks will appeal to readers of Roald Dahl's Matilda and Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle. VERDICT Mabel will inspire readers with her confident creativity; a solid secondary purchase, especially where Lowe's previous title is popular.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT

Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date
August 29, 2017
Poppy Pendle
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV037000 - Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
JUV013000 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | General
Library of Congress categories
JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Friendship
JUVENILE FICTION / Family / General (see also
JUVENILE FICTION / Fantasy & Magic

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