Daisy Dashwood wishes to adopt the baby that has been found in the hatbox. "Five years later, Daisy Dashwood had to admit that Emily Vole wasn't exactly what she had had in mind when she'd made her one and only wish. What she really wanted was a baby girl with blue eyes and blonde hair, ideally the same colour as her own strawberry-blond hair extensions."
Poor little Emily is forced to wear a blond wig (Daisy is a hairdresser) and blue contact lenses. Then things get even worse. When Emily turns five Daisy falls pregnant with triplets. Ronald Dashwood knows they can't send Emily back so he decides Emily can be the family servant. She will now live in the laundry room and her bed is the ironing board.
Luckily for Emily the lady next door, Miss String, is really a fairy in disguise. She and her huge cat companion befriend Emily and are able to assist her with the enormous amount of housework each morning and then provide brilliant lessons each afternoon. "Within a year Emily could read, write, do maths and speak fluent French and German. Plus another strange language called Old English."
When things are going well in a story you just know things are probably destined for disaster and so it is not really a huge surprise that by Chapter eight disaster does indeed fall. Miss Ottoline String is accidentally killed when Mr Charlie Cuddie is distracted by a witch on a broomstick. This witch is the evil Harpella and she is desperate to get hold of a set of keys that Emily now holds. At this point the plot becomes very complex and quite tense as Emily and her best friend Fidget (the giant cat) try to stay one step ahead of Harpella. They need to prevent her getting hold of these special keys and also stop her turning humans into bunnies and zombies.
This is the first book in the series Wings & Co and as you can see it is quite a madcap adventure. We will to add the next two to our library collection soon.
Here is the publisher web site which includes a generous audio sample. Here is an excellent review from the New York Times.
You might also enjoy Emmy and the incredible shrinking rat and Mr and Mrs Bunny, detectives extraordinare, and you should also look for all the other books by Sally Gardner in our school library.
References to fairy tales add depth to the story and make a clever backdrop to this series kickoff, in which a Circe-like witch turns people into animals and lures fairies to their doom in a magical lamp.