Written by Bruce Coville
Illustrated by Paul Kidby
If you’re not already familiar with Bruce Coville’s work, why not? This, one of his more recent books, is hilarious and heartwarming at the same time.
Angus Cairns is a one hundred fifty year old brownie, bound by the terms of a curse laid against his father by an elven queen. When his Scottish mistress dies, he must provide service to an eleven-year-old American girl, Alex Carhart. Angus first makes his way to America and figures out a way to keep his very messy and disorganized charge neat and organized. He also watches in horror as the second part of the curse plays out – the men of the family abandon everything except horrible poetry. A sister who befriends a goblin and her harsh kindergarten teacher complete most of the contributing cast of characters. How can they together save the family of a father who quits his job to write bad poetry?
Kidby’s illustrations are also hilarious and add a lot to the story. From diagrams of the Carharts’ house to labeled illustrations of magical folk to a family portrait of the Carharts, they pull the reader into the brownie world.
Told entirely in diary and journal entries, letters, and notes, this is a fun way for fourth graders to learn about journaling and about a few of the English words that are different in Scotland.