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  • Pure Dead Batty
  • Written by Debi Gliori
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307809322
  • Our Price: $5.99
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Pure Dead Batty

Written by Debi GlioriAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Debi Gliori


List Price: $5.99


On Sale: March 28, 2012
Pages: 320 | ISBN: 978-0-307-80932-2
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
Pure Dead Batty Cover

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Autumn has come to StregaSchloss, and as the days grow dark, an even darker depression has come over the Strega-Borgia family. Ever since the disappearance of their beloved nanny, Mrs. McLachlan, nothing has been the same. To make matters worse, Luciano has been wrongfully charged with her murder and thrown into prison. Never has the family needed Mrs. McLachlan so badly! But with the help of a magical camera and a mysterious silver thread, there may still be hope. . . .

From the Hardcover edition.


Memento Mori

At four o'clock on the afternoon of the first of October, police cars drew up at each of the three main gates to the StregaSchloss estate and effectively cordoned off the area.

As a further precaution, a launch sped up Lochnagargoyle, cut its engines, and dropped anchor just out of sight of the StregaSchloss jetty. Radios crackled, then fell silent as moments ticked by, marked by the rain drumming on the roofs of the police cars and turning their windshields opaque.

Inside the cars the policemen waited for the rain to stop, enviously imagining what it would be like to have so much money that you could afford to live in a huge house like StregaSchloss.

"How many did you say, Detective Sergeant?"

"Fifty-six chimneys, sir."

There StregaSchloss lay, its turrets and chimneys thrust aggressively into the sky; a vast, unattainable, immeasurably expensive chunk of real estate bigger than all the policemen's houses put together.

"Surely that rust bucket can't be their only car, Detective Sergeant?"

"'Fraid so, sir--apart from the butler's wee Japanese jobbie."

Outside StregaSchloss, parked on the rose-quartz drive, was the Strega-Borgia family car, badly in need of a wash and bearing a scrawl to this effect on its rear window. With a pair of high-powered binoculars the DCI could just about decipher the message:

Pure Dead mingin'--please wash me

In Titus's opinion a wash was not enough. He'd written this considered criticism on the car's rear window months ago, but it had failed to bring results: the car still hadn't been washed, and a season spent hauling Titus and his sister Pandora back and forth along a rutted muddy track hadn't improved the car's general state of decrepitude. Nor had his little sister Damp's habit of littering all the car's internal horizontal surfaces with a combination of peanut butter, glitter, and a selection of the dried-up furry bits from the insides of several disemboweled felt pens. No, Titus thought, a grin appearing on his face, a wash was not what their car required. It needed some kind soul to disengage the hand brake, put the gears in neutral, and push the car straight into the moat, where, with luck, it would vanish from sight into the deep mud at the bottom--the same forgiving mud that had swallowed so many unwanted things over the years.

Then they could buy a decent car. Something fast. Something sleek and powerful. Something--Titus's smile faded--something highly unsuitable for a family of two adults, and three children, plus another one due to appear round about Christmas. By which time the parents would either tie Titus and Pandora to the roof rack to make room for the new baby or go and buy something truly hideous with buslike rows of industrial seating, the motor equivalent of an elastic band under the bonnet, and a name that would make Titus cringe every time the parents referred to it. Like, er: "Go and get my bag out of the Nipply, would you, darling"; or, "I think I'd better get gas for the Sopha while I'm in town"; or even, shudder, shudder, "Yeah, but it's not as big as our Urse TDi."

Still, Titus decided, anything, even an Urse TDi, had to be better than having to walk to Auchenlochtermuchty. He hardly noticed when several wet figures ran across the rose quartz and applied themselves to the front doorbell with great urgency. Had he not been quite so preoccupied, Titus might have spotted that two of the scurrying figures were dressed in identical damp black serge with checkerboard detail round the epaulettes: the uniform of the Argyll and Bute Police.

Meanwhile, in his bedroom in the attic, the StregaSchloss butler, Latch, was not enjoying an afternoon nap. He'd spent the hours since lunchtime trying to evict a bat. In vain had he opened skylights and made shooing noises; unsurprisingly, given the rain outside, the bat was having none of it. Latch had no desire to harm the little creature, but he most emphatically didn't want to share the same room. After several abortive attempts to flap it out of the window using a pillowcase as propellant, Latch had given up and was now sitting on his bed, trying to reason with the intruder. The bat hung upside down from the lampshade and ignored him.

"Look," Latch said, "it's dead simple. This is my cave, not yours. The only person I want to share it with lies fathoms deep at the bottom of Lochnagargoyle, and frankly you, pal, are no substitute. Though undoubtedly heaven-sent, the love of my life had no visible wings and definitely wasn't covered in black fur."

The bat blinked and extended one leathery wing.

"Please," Latch said, blowing his nose and wiping his eyes, "leave me alone. Go and do your bat-thing somewhere else. You remind me of death--as if I needed reminding." He closed his eyes, shutting out the sight of the spartan bedroom; a room that bore no evidence of anything other than solitary bachelorhood and utter loneliness. There were no photographs, no letters, nothing to show for the love he'd found and lost. Even his memory of her was dimming as the days without her ticked by; days he spent scanning the loch shore, willing the water to return her to him, his mermaid, his selkie, his loved and lost Flora.

The bat extended both wings and cleared his throat with a discreet cough. "I hate to intrude on your grieving, sir," he whispered. "Forgive me for interrupting. I'm not looking for you, actually. Any chance you could point me toward the witch?"

He waited, refolding his wings like organic origami, his pale eyes blinking in the fading light.

"The witch?" Latch's voice emerged as a strangled squeak.

"The real witch," the bat insisted. "Not the big one, nor the medium one, but the little one--oh, whatsername: Wet? Clammy? Moist?"

"Damp," Latch said. "Down eight flights of stairs, hang a left, and third door on the right along the corridor."

"Damp," the bat said in an awed voice. "D-aaaaammmmmmp."

"Indeed," said Latch, his tone indicating that his patience was running out alongside the bat's welcome. To further this impression he opened the door leading onto the attic corridor, and stepped back to allow the uninvited guest to make his exit unimpeded.

"I'm much obliged," the bat squeaked, unfolding one wing after the other and giving both a good shake. "Really sorry about your sad loss."

"Quite," muttered Latch. He turned aside and crossed the room to stand gazing sightlessly out the window; as clear a signal as one could wish for that the conversation, such as it was, had come to an end. When his swimming eyes were able to focus once more, he realized that the distant white blob parked across the north gate to StregaSchloss was a police car, but by then it was too late.

From the Hardcover edition.
Debi Gliori

About Debi Gliori

Debi Gliori - Pure Dead Batty
"Of course I didn’t know then that I would write stories. All I knew then was that I loved reading them."–Debi Gliori

Debi Gliori is an award-winning picture book author-illustrator and has written and illustrated numerous picture books.


I can still remember the first time I fell into a story; falling to such an extent that the real world, the world with its smell of dancing dust, the world of sunshine highlighting the imperfections in the Victorian glass of the windows of our house in Glasgow, the world of my mother cooking far away downstairs in the kitchen, the world of muted traffic outside on the Great Western Road; all this fell away as I turned the pages of the first chapter of The Wind in the Willows and stepped into the world of Mole and Ratty, taking the first steps that led, many years later, many miles of words both written and read, to the place where I am now, a writer of stories.

Of course I didn’t know then that I would write stories. All I knew then was that I loved reading them. For me stories were brothers, sisters and friends; filling the long hours between childhood and adolescence, holding up a true mirror in which I might find out who I was, rather than a distorted reflection of who I was expected to become.

Growing up a lonely only child prepared me for the years of solitude spent as a writer; years spent in the company of people who don’t exist, imaginary people you have conversations with. It’s a paid form of madness, this writing stuff. Salaried insanity, I guess, though not much salary was involved at the beginning, as I recall. Back then, we ate a heck of a lot of lentils, ignored the fact we could see our breath inside the house during winter, and dragged on another sweater instead of turning up the thermostat. I’ve written stories in a succession of damp, drafty, miles-from-anywhere-therefore-relying-on-rusting-car-to-get-kids-to-school cottages; I’ve squeezed my illustrator’s studio into one dimly-lit bonsai cupboard after another, and I’ve met pressing deadlines with my fax machine balanced on top of the toilet, and my drafting table perched at the top of a staircase so cold, I had to wear gloves to stop my hands from seizing up in the icy atmosphere. Oh, yes, cough, wheeze, I’ve suffered for my art.

Not that much, though. These days I work in a toasty light-drenched studio tucked in a corner of the garden between the compost bins, the logpile and the raspberry canes. Despite the fact the studio looks out of five windows onto a picture perfect view of sky, hills and wide open spaces, I work with my blinds firmly drawn, daylight filtered through their white canvas, a painterly northern light falling through two big skylights above my table, and nothing visible outside to distract me.

This is because I’m trying to see my characters in my head. I’m hoping that they will not only appear, but will also express themselves loudly and unselfconsciously within range of my hearing. At least, that’s the plan. While I wait for my characters to show up, I sit with a fountain pen in my left hand and give a good impression of being a writer. I write. I score out what I’ve written and I re-write. I score out parts of that and I re-draft it. I fill my fountain pen with ink it probably doesn’t need yet, and polish its nib on a bit of hoarded blotting paper. I stare into space and sigh a lot. I write something, read it, and score it out. I re-write it, remove all the adjectives and then put them back, one by one. I score that out with rather unseemly force, and then start a new paragraph. . . .

It’s a very dull thing to watch, a writer at work. So dull that whole casts of characters show up just to watch the boring writer, writing. The characters blow into their cupped hands, shuffle their feet and chat to each other, while the writer avidly eavesdrops on their conversations, rapidly transcribing what is being said and what he or she can glean from a series of furtive glances in the character’s direction.

There are great days...and then there are days I’d swap jobs with anyone. There are whole months at a time when my head is so full of ideas that I wake in the middle of the night and lie in the dark telling myself stories. There are also long dark nights when I just know I’ll never write another word, I’m finished, empty, a husk. . . . Oh dear, yes, twitch, yawn, how I’ve suffered insomnia for my art.

I write at a desk which wraps itself round 2 walls of my studio. This desk is a complete tip–littered with paper, manuscript clips, pens, unpaid bills, bits of computer paraphenalia, a massive desk diary, two laptops, a cardboard cut-out of one of my picture-book characters, a tax demand, drawings, notes, photos of castles on the West coast of Scotland and postcards of lighthouses. When I’m illustrating books rather than writing them, I move to a drawing board tucked in a corner on the other side of my studio, a space that is far tidier, a space where I sit surrounded by preparatory character drawings in pencil and watercolour on one wall, and heaps of photos of my five children on the other.

Nowadays I have a fairly good idea of who I am, and I’m no longer bored, stuck between childhood and adolescence, waiting for my life to begin. I still read a lot; the mirror of words still has many things to show me. But now I’m the mother, cooking in the kitchen, and my children, and other people’s children are the ones falling into the world of words. And guess what? Some of those words are mine.



"Mary Poppins meets the Addams Family in a nonstop farce.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“Filled to bursting with an eccentric cast of characters, this extravagant tale combines magic, mafiaesque villainy, mythical beasts, foible-filled humans, and humor into a mixture that will appeal to fans of Diana Wynne Jones, J. K. Rowling and even Lemony Snicket. . . . Pure dead fun.”—School Library Journal

“Should Lemony Snicket grow a bit stale, here’s the perfect antidote.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred


“Plainly channeling Roald Dahl and Charles Addams through her own uniquely wacky sense of humor, Gliori dishes up as a successor to Pure Dead Magic an equally barbed, sidesplitting farce. . . . [A] pedal-to-the-metal page turner.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The story will make children roar with laughter. . . . This installment will not disappoint.”—School Library Journal

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