by N. E. Bode
It has already been two books since Fern and Howard, switched at birth, have been switched back - but they remain "sort of" sister and brother, and grow more so as their third adventure progresses. It begins in school, where they are expelled after Fern turns her atrocious teacher's hair into a live (but tiny) pony. Howard's real parents, the Drudgers, step in with a court order to send both kids to a military school. So, in desperation, Fern and Howard run away to the "City Beneath the City" - beneath New York, that is - where an Anybodies convention is about to take place at an amazing, ever-changing hotel.
Anybodies, you may recall, are people who can hypnotize other people - and objects - and even themselves - to become whatever they want them to be. For example, at one point Fern hypnotizes herself into the form of a dog, and a Korean dollar-store owner hypnotizes Howard into the form of a Transatlantic twerp. But the point of their going to the Anybodies Convention is not merely to have fun practicing transformations and meeting other Anybodies. Fern has a destiny, revealed to her by the book only she can read - The Art of Being Anybody - the book that makes Fern royalty in the Anybody world. Fern has to do battle with the evil Blue Queen, who has returned after eleven years of exile to make a second attempt to take over everything.
Only, whether she wins or not hasn't been revealed to her. It could be tough. The Queen has brainwashed everyone else to do her bidding. She has gathered strength by sucking the souls out of books, and she will soon be ready to steal souls directly from living people. And before Fern is quite ready to face her, the Blue Queen's flying monkeys capture Howard - who, in turn, holds the key the Blue Queen seeks, the key to unlock a power that will make her unstoppable.
Since this book came out, N. E. Bode (the kidfic penname of Julianna Baggott) has branched out into other work, such as The Slippery Map and some books tied in with the film "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium." So I am not certain whether this series will go on to include, say, The Everybodies. But it would be nice. In spite of myself, I have grown to enjoy the voice of N. E. Bode, quirkily injecting snippets of "his" outlandish life story into the strange and delightful adventures of Fern and Howard. Plus, I don't find the sense of closure that one should feel at the end of a "final" book in a series. So I won't be annoyed, or even surprised, to see this magical world again.
Recommended Age: Age: 10+
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