It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Rid the county of boggarts, witches, ghosts and other evils, that is. And that's what the Spook's business happens to be. But current spook, Old Gregory, is getting on in years and he needs to train a successor. He takes on as his apprentice young Thomas Ward, a seventh son of a seventh son. Listeners are in for some chills, courtesy of Delaney's first book and Welch's commanding reading, in which he portrays the Spook with a good dose of sonorous gravitas and matter-of-fact superiority. The roles of hissing, spooky witches Mother Malkin and Bony Lizzie prove spinetingling entertainment. And with the skillful portrayals of the often fast-talking characters of Tom's mam, and his new friend (and future witch), Alice, listeners are intrigued, never sure what they're going to get. By recording's end, Tom seems especially well-suited to his burgeoning, unusual career, even though he's still terrified by his duties (and, yes, a little afraid of his boss). Luckily for listeners, there are more tales of Tom's adventures in the works. An enhanced CD feature here allows listeners to view and print "Tom Ward's Secrets for Survival" and other bonus materials on a personal computer. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)[Page 72]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Gr 5-8 -In the first title of the series by Joseph Delaney (Greenwillow, 2005), 12-year-old Tom Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son who has been apprenticed to "The Spook," whose job it is to ward off witches, boggarts, and ghosts from his domain in the English countryside. Twenty-nine other apprentices have gone before Tom. Will he be able to succeed because he is able to "see things," or because he is left-handed, or because his Mam has taught him Greek? After leaving the farm and his family to go with Mr. Gregory, he is put through several trials and warnings to beware of girls in pointy shoes and to make sure not to insult a snippy boggart that cooks and cleans. Then the Spook begins very precise instruction, which Tom voluminously transcribes into notebooks. Young and naïve, Tom makes a big blunder that unleashes the wrath of the malevolent witch, Mother Malkin, a villain who could rival Voldermort. In this tale that is a mix between Sweeney Todd and Harry Potter, listeners will experience tension and suspense along with a likeable character in Tom, who is affable, loyal, and eager to do a good job. Actor Evan Welch reads this first-person narrative with a boyish sincerity. Each character is given a distinct and vibrant voice. Fans of this story will be eager for its sequel to know if Tom will succeed or go the route of the first 29 apprentices. A good purchase where the book is popular.-Jo-Ann Carhart, East Islip Public Library, NY[Page 74]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.