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  • Pure Dead Magic
  • Written by Debi Gliori
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375890253
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Pure Dead Magic

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


List Price: $5.99


On Sale: August 13, 2002
Pages: 192 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89025-3
Published by : Knopf Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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Things are not right at the Strega-Borgia castle. Signor Luciano Strega-Borgia has been kidnapped. Signora Baci Strega-Borgia is struggling with her spells at the Advanced Witchcraft Institute.Titus and Pandora don’t like their suspiciously cheerful and fearless new nanny. Baby Damp has been accidentally shrunk, e-mailed, and lost on the World Wide Web. And to top it off, there’s a gangster in a bunny suit lurking about. . . .

This seriously over-the-top, gothic romp is sure to have readers clamoring for the next Strega-Borgia adventure.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter 7 The Wager

"Titus, I'm in deep poo." Pandora collapsed on her brother's bed with a small wail.
Titus didn' t respond, unless a grunt counted as an expression of brotherly concern.

"Listen up, Titus, I need your help."

"I'm busy," came the reply.

Pandora unfolded herself from the bed and came to stand by her brother. Titus muttered and tapped on a keyboard, seemingly oblivious to the presence of his sister.

"I can't tell where that stupid computer ends and you begin. Titus, if you don't stop and listen to me, I'm going to see if it likes Coke as much as you do."

Titus unglued his eyeballs from the screen and looked up. Pandora was unscrewing the cap from a vast bottle of brown fizz. He sighed.

"Ah! Eyeball contact," gloated Pandora. "Is there intelligent life on Planet Titus? Yes, there appears to be large amoebathing with an open hole in the middle of its head, but we are experiencing some difficulty in establishing communication."

Titus sighed again. "What is it?" he said.

"I've lost Multitudina."

"Big deal," said Titus, "plenty more rats where she came from."

Pandora glared at her brother. "And all her babies, Titus-all thirteen of them."

"They'll turn up," said Titus philosophically. "Floating in the

soup, down the toilet, hot-wired to the back of the fridge . . ."

"Titus. I shut them in here. Before breakfast. And when I came back upstairs with their bacon rinds, they were gone."

"What did you do with the bacon rinds?" asked Titus irrelevantly.

"Damp probably ate them. But that's not the point, the

point is-"
"The point is, " said Titus, -that this is my bedroom, and you introduced fourteen free-range rats several bits of dead pig, and one incontinent baby into my space. Without my permission. That's the point."

"Your Highness. Accept my humble apologies. Entering your Royal Bedchamber without permission is a crime punishable by death, but, sire, I can account for said bits of bacon and smelly baby-one is inside the other, and both are in the nursery-but where are Multitudina and her tribe?"

"You're toast, Pandora," said Titus. "Mum'll be back tonight

and when she finds out

"Titus. . . " groaned Pandora. "Please.

"I don't like rats, remember? Frankly, I'm delighted that your disgusting rodent's done a runner."
"She's not disgusting."

"She's a foul-mouthed, yellow-fanged, smelly bit of vermin that's probably into cannibalism."

"She did not eat her babies, Titus. You've got to help me find them."

"If you're so brilliant, you find them."

"Bet I can," said Pandora.

"Bet you can't."

"How much?"

"A game of Monopoly?" said Titus with faint hope.

"NEVER," yelled Pandora. "Frankly, I'd rather swim a lap across the moat than play with you."

" Big words, big deal, Pandora. You're all talk and no action. Inside you're just a fluff-brained girl. You'd never dare."

Livid with rage, Pandora forgot to engage her brain before opening her mouth. "I bet I CAN find them," she shrieked. "AND I WOULD, TOO, DARE! AND I'M NOT JUST TALKING!"

"No," agreed Titus, "you're shouting. And your eyes have gone all funny."

"I'm not SHOUTING," Pandora insisted. "I'll find the rat babies or I'll swim the moat. Done. Satisfied?"

"You're kidding," gasped Titus. "You can hardly swim, let alone fight off crocodiles."

"You're the one who needs water wings and an inner tube, Titus." Her voice wobbled dangerously "And when I say done, I mean it."

Despite her bluster, reality was dawning. What on earth was she doing, agreeing to swim across the moat? Tock was starving.

Ravenous. Hadn't eaten a nanny for at least two weeks. "I mean it, Titus, but-"

"Ah! I knew there would be a but. No, you can't wear a suit of armor to swim in. Tock hates tinned food and, no, you may not feed Tock an elephant before you begin."

"You seem awfully confident that I won't find Multitudina's ratettes."

"You could say that," Titus said smugly "But before you ask, I haven't touched them, harmed them, or even seen the ghastly beasts since last night. Now ... but what?"

"But ... I need a week to find them."

"Three days."

"Five days, then. Come on, Titus, play fair."

"In five days, that disgusting rat slob could produce another litter."

"Give me five days to find the missing babies, and if I don't, I'll swim the moat," said Pandora, crossing her fingers tightly

"Deal," said Titus.

From the Hardcover edition.
Debi Gliori

About Debi Gliori

Debi Gliori - Pure Dead Magic
"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


"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

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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