The Spell Book of Listen Taylor (And the Secrets of the Family Zing)

Age Range
12+
ISBN
0439846781
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1 review
What IS the Big Secret?
Overall rating
 
3.0
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
0.0
Writing Style
 
0.0
Poor Listen Taylor's group of best friends dumps her just as she enters Junior High. But at least she has the mysterious Spell Book that she found as she, her father, and her father's girlfriend, Marbie Zing, move into a new home. Listen's Spell Book tells her when and how to work her first spell.

Meanwhile, a second grade teacher named Cath Murphy develops a crush on the new teacher at her school. Cassie Zing, Marbie's niece, just happens to be in Cath's class--and the Zing family seems to be unusually interested in Cassie's opinion of her teacher. Cassie's mother, Fancy Zing, is discontented with her husband, prompting her to keep an "Irritating Things About My Husband" list.

A mystery threads through this weaving of interconnected characters: What is the Zing family's secret? The author's gift for quirky, wonderful description is a joy to read, and the Zing family puzzle made it hard for me to put the book down. I did enjoy this book for the most part, but I was bothered by some of the actions of the characters, which seemed to invade a person's privacy in a way that was kind of creepy--and the motivation for those actions seemed inadequate (not much justifies out and out spying, as far as I'm concerned). I also wondered why this book is marketed to teens, since most of the plot revolves around adults. On the other hand, the Zing family secret is a surprise, the off-kilter characters are fascinating, and the writing is wonderful--and I suspect some readers will thoroughly enjoy it.
TM
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Funny but Confusing
Overall rating
 
3.0
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3.0
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0.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by the book muncher

The Zing family is one of very eccentric people. But their strange quirks dont completely set them apart from normal; what does is their big secret, the Zing Family Secret, something so big that the entire family meets every Friday night in the garden shed to discuss it, a secret that possibly involves illegal activities. In addition to this wacky cast of characters, there are Listen Taylor and Cath Murphy. Listen is a lonely, friendless girl whose father is dating a Zing. She always wonders what the Zing Family Secret is, but doesnt spend too much time worrying about it. But she does stumble upon a spell book made by a Zing (though shes unaware of that last fact) and decides to perform them, hoping theyll ease her dreary life. As for Caths connection to the Zings, well, thats what this storys all about.

I was interested in reading The Spell Book of Listen Taylor because it sounded like a cool story in a strange way and because I absolutely loved two other books by Jaclyn Moriarty, The Year of Secret Assignments and The Death of Bindy Mackenzie. However while all the different points-of-view and random events work for those two novels, it didnt function as well in The Spell Book of Listen Taylor. There were so many characters that I had a difficult time keeping track of all of them and even mixed them up a couple of times. On top of the numerous characters, there was just so much going on. It also became confusing when two connected events that occurred simultaneously were told from different perspectives in different places in the book. The different parts didnt fit together seamlessly as a while. One thing I found off was that every adult female member of the Zing family either had an affair, talked about an affair they had, or contemplated having one over the course of the story (I found that shocking). Also, some of the details are incomplete; for example, the reader never finds out if Listens spells were actual magic or if the results happened by chance. The one thing I did enjoy about this story was gradually discovering the Zing Family Secret. However, the rest of the book was just a mass of confusion.

I recommend reading The Spell Book of Listen Taylor only is you have a great memory and a lot of patience or if you are absolutely enamored with Jaclyn Moriartys writing. Otherwise, I only suggest reading The Year of Secret Assignments and The Death of Bindy Mackenzie, also by the same author.

reposted from http://thebookmuncher.blogspot.com
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What would you do in this situation?
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2.0
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2.0
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0.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Tasha

Listen Taylor is a quiet girl starting the seventh grade. At the begining of the school year her group of friends dumps her and for the rest of the year she has trouble finding a truly fitting group of friends. One day she comes upon a spell book with crazy spells in it such as "spell to make a person catch a taxi" or "spell to make someone get stung by a bee." Although it may seem fantasy-like the book is actually very realistic. As mentioned before Listen faces friend problems, just like the rest of us. Also the other main characters face many a realistic problem. Marbie Zing, Listen's father's girlfriend, makes a terrible mistake, Fancy Zing, Marbie's sister, is confused with her life, and Cath Murphy, the teacher of Fancy's second grader, has fallen in love with a married man. Along with the stories about the troubles all the main characters are facing there is the Zing family secret, which all characters will go to earth's end to protect. There are many clues within the book that lead to the eventual telling of the secret -- prepare yourself for a major shocker.


I thought that book was o.k. It was my favorite, but it was definitly good. There were elements of suspense, romance, and at points it was easy to relate to.The book was also like a puzzle. Trying to put everything together so that the reader could figure out the Zing family secret before it was told in the book. At points it did become confusing because there are many sub-stories told within the book that don't really have anything to do with the book, untill the final chapters.
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