Wizard at Work by Vivian Vande Velde
Wizards are supposed to be old men with pointy hats, so the young wizard professor at the center of this story makes himself look like an old man during the school year. He puts his disguise away at the beginning of his summer vacation and looks forward to a few months of puttering around the garden growing vegetables he won’t eat, when a chance encounter with a witch sets him off on a series of adventures to discover that appearances don’t always match reality.
Wizard at Work by Vivian Vande Velde is a collection of humorous takes on familiar fairy tale staples. Each chapter treats a different trope — Cinderella, dragons, magic mirrors, unicorns, and ghosts all put in appearances in some form or another — and together they form a sweet, simple, and gently funny collection of tales that will delight younger readers. Both characters and plot are... Read More
Vivian Vande Velde(1951 )
Read excerpts of Vivian Vande Velde‘s novels for children and teens at her website.
Wizard at Work by Vivian Vande Velde
Spellbound — (1997-1998) Young adult. An omnibus edition is available. Publisher: The Conjurer Princess: Young princess Lylene apprentices herself to a wizard in order to gain the power to rescue her older sister, who was kidnappped during her wedding, and armed with her new magic, Lylene joins forces with a couple of handsome outlaw companions as she embarks on her quest.
The Changeling Prince: Welland was less than a slave. Slaves are human, and he was wolf, allowed to assume human form only when it suited the sorceress Daria. Daria kept an army of changelings — mostly wolf but some lynx or weasel, a bear or two, and at least one rat. She used them to hunt and kill. And sometimes to pretend to be human, so she could pretend to be a lady. Weiland hated the lie almost as much as he hated the truth. Then he met a burglar, a thief named Shile, who offered to help him steal what he had never owned. His own troubled soul…
A Hidden Magic — (1985) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Once upon a time there was a very nice but very plain princess named Jennifer, who, following proper fairy-tale protocol, fell for a very handsome but very conceited prince named Alexander. When Alexander offends a powerful witch, it falls to Jennifer to save him. In the course of doing so, she meets a wizard and soon wonders if she’s such a proper fairy-tale princess after all — a good little princess would love Alexander, but does she?
A Well-Timed Enchantment — (1990) Ages 9-12. Publisher: It’s bad enough that Deanna has to waste her summer in France and her only friend is a mangy black cat, but now she’s staring hopelessly into a well, trying to figure out what in the world to wish for. Before she can make a wish, the cat scratches her, her watch falls into the well, and then… so has she! Except that now she’s in medieval France, the cat is a handsome young man, and her watch has the power to completely change history. Maybe a quiet summer would have been nice?
User Unfriendly — (1991) Ages 9-12. Publisher: It’s the most advanced computer role-playing game ever: When you play you’re really there-in a dark dream teeming with evil creatures, danger-filled fortresses, and malevolent sorceries. The game plugs directly into your brain-no keyboard, no modem, no monitor. And for game hacker Arvin Rizalli and his friends, no cash up front, no questions asked… and no hope of rescue when the game goes horribly, deathly wrong.
Dragon’s Bait — (1992) Young adult. Publisher: Fifteen-year-old Alys is not a witch. But that doesn’t matter—the villagers think she is and have staked her out on a hillside as a sacrifice to the local dragon. It’s late, it’s cold, and it’s raining, and Alys can think of only one thing — revenge. But first she’s got to escape, and even if she does, how can one girl possibly take on an entire town alone? Then the dragon arrives — a dragon that could quite possibly be the perfect ally…
Companions of the Night — (1995) Young adult. Publisher: Kerry’s got a tough night ahead of her. What begins as a simple lost-and-found trip to the Laundromat turns into a nightmarish odyssey of murder, vampires, and — quite possibly—true love. Vivian Vande Velde puts a terrifying spin on what should be a typical night in a small town.
A Coming Evil — (1998) Young adult. Publisher: Lisette Beaucaire was angry when her parents sent her away from Paris that September day in 1940. And although she knew that with the Nazis occupying the city she’d be safer at her aunt Josephine’s farm in the Dordogne Valley, Lisette resented her “exile.” She’d miss her friends and the excitement of being thirteen and starting a new school. Instead, she’d have nothing to do but amuse her little cousin Cecile. That’s what Lisette thought, but she soon found out that she wasn’t the only visitor at the farmhouse. And then she encountered Gerard, a visitor from a long time ago, who proved to be a valiant ally at a crucial moment.
Never Trust a Dead Man — (1999) Young adult. Publisher: Selwyn is brokenhearted when the beautiful Anora chooses to marry the awful-but-rich Farold. It’s bad enough when Farold beats him up in front of the villagers, but nothing prepares him for when Farold is found murdered. All accusing fingers point to Selwyn, who is promptly sealed in a burial cave with Farold’s corpse. But they’re not alone in the cave. A witch appears with an offer of escape if Selwyn will be her servant. The witch brings Farold back from the dead in the form of a bat–too bad he doesn’t know who really killed him! There’s no choice left for Selwyn except to join forces with his worst enemy, a dead man, to find the real murderer.
There’s a Dead Person Following My Sister Around — (1999) Ages 9-12. Publisher: When Ted’s five-year-old sister, Vicki, invents an imaginary friend, no one is too concerned…except that Vicki’s friend has the never-popular name of Marella, and unlike most imaginary friends, Marella can move things. Ted might think Marella is a ghost, but why would a ghost haunt Vicki, of all people? And why would she suddenly move into a house Ted’s family has lived in for ages? And why is Marella terrified of another ghost, a dark figure who seems to be hunting Ted? Hilarious, haunting, and unexpectedly moving, There’s a Dead Person Following My Sister Around is Vivian Vande Velde at her frightening best.
The Rumpelstiltskin Problem — (2000) Young adult. Publisher: Have you ever wondered just what was going on when that odd little man with the long name stepped up and volunteered to spin straw into gold for the miller’s daughter? If you stop and think about it, there are some very peculiar and rather hard-to-explain components to the story. Vivian Vande Velde has wondered too, and she’s come up with these six alternative versions of the old legend. A bevy of miller’s daughters confront their perilous situation in very different ways — sometimes comic, sometimes scary. Most of the time, it’s the daughter who gets off safely, but sometimes, amazingly, Rumpelstiltskin himself wins the day. And in one tale, it is the king who cleverly escapes a quite unexpected fate.
Magic Can be Murder — (2000) Young adult. Publisher: Nola isn’t much of a witch. She can work only a few useless spells, like the one that lets her spy on people by enchanting a bucket of water. But there’s no spell for keeping her mother-who hears voices and is a magnet for witch-hunters-out of trouble. The two of them evade the authorities by traveling from town to town, taking odd jobs and moving on-until the day Nola magically witnesses a murder…
Heir Apparent — (2002) Ages 9-12. Publisher: In the virtual reality game Heir Apparent, there are way too many ways to get killed — and Giannine seems to be finding them all. Which is a darn shame, because unless she can get the magic ring, locate the stolen treasure, answer the dwarf’s dumb riddles, impress the head-chopping statue, charm the army of ghosts, fend off the barbarians, and defeat the man-eating dragon, she’ll never win. And she has to, because losing means she’ll die — for real this time.
Witch’s Wishes — (2003) Ages 9-12. Publisher: This funny, exciting Halloween romp will entertain readers long after the holiday has passed. On her way to the All Hallows’ Eve Ghastly Gala A-go-go, a scatterbrained old witch avoids a collision with the Channel 12 air traffic report helicopter. Trick-or-treater Sarah, six, sees her fall from the sky and gives her a Band-Aid. The witch repays the kindness by turning the child’s fairy-princess-costume wand into a magical one that grants wishes. At first, these wishes are harmless enough, but then her desires begin to wreak havoc, as when she wishes that everyone had a dog. To remedy the problem, the witch tries a reversal spell that brings even more disasters. Silhouette illustrations decorate the opening pages of chapters. This beginning chapter book is for a much younger set than Vande Velde’s usual audience, but the author maintains the wry wit and entertaining fantasy for which she is known. Readers will be kept on the edge of their broomsticks wondering how Sarah’s life will ever be put back to normal.
The Book of Mordred — (2005) Young adult. Publisher: Dark forces are taking hold in the kingdom of Camelot: King Arthur struggles to keep his knights in line as they steadily divide themselves into factions; the great Merlin has vanished at the hands of his lover and pupil, Nimue; wizards all over the countryside battle for whatever measures of power they can find. At the center of the maelstrom stands Keira, an innocent girl who possesses the ability to foretell the fate of her world. When Keira is kidnapped from her village home, her mother, Alayna, flees to Camelot and finds Mordred, an enigmatic knight who will ultimately become Keira”s greatest champion, Alayna’s greatest love, and King Arthur”s greatest enemy. In the long tradition of Arthurian legend, Mordred has been characterized as a buffoon, a false knight, and a bloodthirsty traitor. The Book of Mordred reveals a mysterious man through the eyes of three women who love him.
Three Good Deeds — (2005) Ages 9-12. Publisher: If Howard had known the old hag was a witch, he never would have taunted her. But he did, and she did what witches do — cursed him — and now he’s a goose, which to tell you the truth, is not as serene and peaceful as it might look from the shore. People try to kill geese, for crying out loud, and the other geese are none too nice to newcomers. Howard is desperate to become a human again so he can show that old witch a thing or two. But the only way to break the curse is to do three good deeds — and how can you help others when you’ve got webbed feet, wings for hands, and can’t say anything but “Honk”?
Now You See It… — (2005) Young adult. Publisher: Wendy isn’t as blind as a bat — there are bats that can see better than she can. Which is why, when her new glasses break, she’s all too happy to wear the dorky pair of sunglasses she finds on the lawn. They seem to match her prescription, and that’s all that matters if she’s going to be able to make it through her school day. But the glasses correct her vision too much. She begins to see things that no one else can see: cheerful corpses, frightening crones disguised as teenyboppers, and portals to other worlds — places where people are all too aware of the magical properties of her new shades… and will do anything to get them.
Stolen — (2008) Young adult. Publisher: The same day that the villagers of Thornstowe finally hunt down a witch with a reputation for stealing children, a 12-year-old appears in the woods with no memory of her past. Is there a connection between Isabelle, the girl who doesn’t know who she is, and the girl the witch stole six years earlier? One of the few things Isabelle remembers is a chant that keeps running through her head: Old as dirt, dirty as dirt. Ugly as sin, mean as sin. Don’t let the old witch catch you! Could Isabelle have been stolen by the old witch of the woods, or has she lost her memory as the result of an accident? And what about the baby the witch stole right before the villagers attacked? Did either the witch or the baby survive the fire the villagers set?