July 9, 2010

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 10:40 pm by suebe2

Howl’s Moving Castle (AR 5 .4 )

by Diana Wynne Jones

Meek and dutiful, Sophie quietly takes her place as an apprentice in the family hat shop after Papa’s death.  The work is tedious, but Sophie has to do her part and all three daughters have been apprenticed out by Sophie’s well-meaning step-mother.  Besides, Sophie has a talent for hat making, a talent that seems almost magical.

But magic is something the people of her town fear.  Nearby is the Witch of the Waste, the subject of late night tales and fireside whispers.

Then a massive black castle floats into view.  Soon the town is abuzz with talk of Wizard Howl, a fierce sorcerer who robs young women of their hearts.

With the castle looming over the town, Howl is a much more immediate threat until the Witch shows up in the shop and turns Sophie into an old woman.

In a panic, Sophie flees the only home she’s ever known and, as night falls, barges into the only shelter in sight — the floating castle.  There she becomes Howl’s housekeeper who is more vain than fierce.  Still, for a man with so many short comings, he occasionally seems amazingly kind in his own mysterious way.

A hapless apprentice,

A scary scare crow,

A crafty fire demon,

and a dog who sometimes turns into a man come to people Sophie’s life even as she struggles to shake off the enchantment.

As an old woman, Sophie becomes fierce and strong, although Howl still accuses her of being too kind.  She also has a tendency to make short sighted decisions with disastrous though humorous results.   As she strives to sort things back out, she must decide who is more than they appear to be and which of the people in her life can be trusted, all before it is too late.

A fabulous fantasy adventure, Howl’s Moving Castle makes an excellent read for tweens who adore fantasy, feisty, strong-willed characters and humor.  For, at times deeply serious, at other times the book leaves you rolling with laughter, especially when Howl is under the weather.

It isn’t necessary to read these books (Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Air, and The House of Many Ways) in order, but it will certainly shed light on the characters of Sophie and Howl when they appear in The House of Many Ways.

This middle grade novel would also be suitable for advanced readers for, although love is a strong theme, it isn’t acted upon in anything but a romantic sense.

–SueBE

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2 Comments »

  1. Kristi Bernard said,

    I watched the anime film about this story and it was wonderful.

    • suebe2 said,

      Wasn’t it? My family enjoyed it so much that I had to go find the book.
      –SueBE


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