Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism
by Georgia Byng
Reading level: Ages 9-12
She might not be as photogenic as Harry Potter, but the charming Molly Moon makes up the difference in pluck in this somewhat similar story of a put-upon English orphan who finds that she has abilities beyond her wildest imagining.
Buy Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism
Georgia Byng's debut novel has already swept to such success that it's due for translation in over 20 countries, with a movie version following close behind (produced by Harry Potter's David Heyman, natch). And with such a genuinely likeable (if straightforward) story and heroine, it's not hard to see why. Molly Moon struggles to survive in Hardwick House, an orphanage apparently run by and for caricatures--the beastly mistress Miss Adderstone and her bad-tempered pug, the muscly Gordon Boils (who tattooed "KING GORD" on the fingers of his fists with a compass and ink), creepy Roger Fibbin with his "sharp nose and cold, spying eyes." But as all wish-fulfillment adventures must go, Molly's life is changed one fateful day, as an arcane book draws out her special talent--she can hypnotize anybody to do anything she wants!
Byng makes good use of her otherwise mundane cast with plenty of wry asides (like Molly's fixation on the transformative promise of advertising), great running jokes (especially the metamorphosis of the orphanage's hard-boiled cook into a proud Italian capocuoco), some clever plot sleight-of-hand, and ample funny descriptions (as when Molly finds herself in the Royal Suite at the Waldorf: "She wasn't sure about the Jacuzzi. It was like ten monsters farting in her bath all at once.").