What is Fate ... Don't Worry, It Will Find You!


City girl Kai Grove is spending the summer in Texas with Great-Aunt Lavinia Quirk, whose personality matched her name! Lavinia, who is related to her deceased father, didn't have kids (or guests), so Kai was pretty much on her own. Within a few hours she met Doodle, the girl across the street, and found The Exquisite Corpse. What Kai didn't know was how those two things would change her life.

At the same time Kai is settling into her summer, mystery-loving Leila Awan is soaking in Lahore, Pakistan. She is far away from her sister Nadia (the star of the family) and excited for an "authentic cultural experience." Exploring her uncle's library, she spotted a book with an intriguing title: The Exquisite Corpse.

When the girls opened their copy the first time, there were few words there. But, as each added a few words or asked a question, the story began to reveal itself. Through these pages, the girls met Ralph T. Flabbergast and Edwina Pickle, and learned about their lives and their love for each other. Despite the fact that these people (may) have lived a long time ago, Lelia and Kai could not tear themselves away from the book. Separately - and yet somehow together - the girls learn how we are connected to each other and through time.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (14):
This is a weird magical story, but if you read the whole book, you learn there is a romantic angle to the magic. When Lelia writes on the page, Kai can see it, and since they are worlds apart, that is a bit creepy. There are all sorts of surprises, especially at the end. It's the biggest one of all.

Parent Perspective:
What a wonderfully refreshing, fun, and unique story. Except for Pettyfer, who was a pretty stereotypical bully, all the other characters are vivid and unique. Aunt Lavinia is a hipster; Mamoo has a Yoda-ness to him; Doodle reminds me of Pippi Longstocking. Leila's struggle with being part of a culture and yet not fully understanding it is so real, and very powerful.

The layers are exquisite, and readers can be in the past and the present at the same time in beautiful ways that are, as the story illustrates, connected. Believe it or not, The Exquisite Corpse is not the most magical part. But to explain it would reveal too much of the story.

Highly recommended for readers of all ages. This would be a great read-aloud at bed time, listening to as an audio book, or reading independently. Reluctant readers will appreciate the short chapters.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

The Exquisite Corpse is part mystery, part adventure, and completely magical. Readers are immersed in the rural Texas and Lahore, Pakistan today and yet also part of an historical love. Short chapters, and great sensory language make it appealing to all readers.

Content Awareness Factors:

None, really. There is an Eid tradition of slaughtering a goat, which is described in the story. It doesn't happen, but readers should be aware.

Type of Book:
Two narrators tell the story of an historical love, bound in the pages of a book.
Educational Themes:

Enjoy this for fun.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
10 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
9 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 14
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow, but don't be surprised if the kids want you to buy a copy so they can read it again.

Title A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic
Author Lisa Papademetriou
Publisher Harper, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2015
ISBN 9780062371065
Material Paperback
Cost $6.99
Genres Fable | Folklore, Friendship, Mythology, Reading
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