Booktalk for NEVERMOOR: THE TRIALS OF MORRIGAN CROW by Jessica Townsend

Due to the unfortunate day of her birth, Morrigan Crow is destined to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. And while she lives, she’s a curse. Anything that goes wrong in Jackalfax—hail storms, heart attacks, ruined batches of marmalade—they’re all blamed on her. It’s a lonely life. Nobody wants to be in the same room with her, for fear of something terrible happening, and her own father makes it clear that her existence is interfering with his political career.

When the night of her eleventh birthday arrives, Morrigan hears rolling thunder as the Hunt of Smoke and Shadow approaches. She sees, in the distance, the vicious red-eyed shadow creatures that will devour her. They’re cresting the hill toward Crow Manor.

But before the Hunt catches her, Morrigan is whisked away to the secret land of Nevermoor.

Not only has she cheated death, at least for now, but Nevermoor is an extraordinary place. She gets to ride around in an eight-legged brass arachnipod. People jump off buildings for the fun of it—and float down with magical umbrellas. And at the Hotel Deucalion, where Morrigan lives now, the housekeeper is an enormous—and enormously grumpy—talking cat.

In order to stay in Nevermoor, Morrigan must win a spot in the Wundrous Society, the most prestigious institution in the land. If she completes their four rigorous trials, and gets accepted as a member, she’ll be safe and respected and welcomed into a family of friends like she’s never had in her life.

But the Wundrous Society is only taking nine new members—and there are over five hundred candidates. If she doesn’t get selected, she’ll be deported back to Jackalfax, where the Hunt of Smoke and Shadow still waits.

Genre: fantasy

Grades 4-7.

 

Anna’s take on it:

I liked this title a lot, and I was surprised that the initial reaction from kids was lukewarm. Turns out I hadn’t nailed the booktalk. After rewriting it twice, I started getting a much better response. Several fourth grade classes in a row had it at the top of their list. (Most kids in those classes either wanted to read this one or Restart. Or both.) I had one fourth grader say she’d gotten Nevermoor from the library the previous day—and she’d already finished it. It’s a thick book. She loved it.