The Spell Bind


By Barbara Brauner

By James Iver Mattson

Illustrated by Abigail Halpin

Cover design or artwork by Abigail Halpin

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For the first time ever, the Godmothers’ League is allowing a student to be homeschooled???and that student just happens to be Lacey Unger-Ware. Fairy godmother training is tougher than it seems, though. Rhyming spells, magic dresses, and all those fairy-godmothering books are just the start of Lacey’s troubles. When jetpack-obsessed Martin Shembly goes from unpopular to the biggest outcast in Lincoln Middle School history, Lacey tries to help???with a little magic. Oops! Now she’s caught in a serious spell bind! Martin is her new fairy godmother client! And if she fails to fix Martin’s problems, Lacey and Katarina will be whooshed away to the South Pole. Worse: Martin’s life will permanently stink. Forever. Will Lacey’s training be enough to save them all? Or is Katarina going to need to learn to speak penguin?


Pop quiz: My name is Lacey Unger-Ware, and I am a(n):

a) fairy-godmother-in-training

b) normal sixth grader

c) intern at the Highland Park Zoo

d) assistant at my parents’ restaurant, the Hungry Moose

e) babysitter to my cute/annoying five-year-old sister, Madison

f) all of the above

The answer is: f) all of the above.

It’s crazy, right? How can one person do all this stuff? Even five people would have trouble doing all this stuff.

You’re probably thinking I should be able to wave my magic wand and get everything done. But magic never makes things easier—it makes things harder, and stranger, and more likely to blow up in your face.

So maybe the answer isn’t f) at all. Maybe it’s h) for help!

For the first time ever, in like hundreds and hundreds of years, the Godmothers’ League is letting a student be homeschooled instead of sent away to the Godmother Academy.

That student is me.

And where there’s a student, there’s got to be a teacher. My teacher is Katarina Sycorax, who’s three inches tall with beautiful butterfly wings and a bad attitude. (By bad attitude, I mean she’s cranky.)

I’ve had cranky teachers before, and I bet you have, too. But yours probably wasn’t living on top of your dresser in your bedroom. And I’m sure yours didn’t cut the arm off your favorite teddy bear to make herself a fur coat. Or threaten to turn you into an elephant if you didn’t memorize your assignment. (Because everyone knows that elephants have excellent memories.)

For me, it’s like the school day is twenty-four hours long and the bell never rings.

Katarina and I have been waiting for weeks to find out who my new fairy godmother client is, and we’re both getting pretty antsy about it. When I get antsy, I chew my fingernails. When Katarina gets antsy, she yells. Like, all the time. Right now, she’s yelling about my book report, which she’s also stomping on.

“This stinks! Did you even bother to read Godmothering During the Renaissance?”

“Of course I did!”

The old, dusty book is still on my desk. Katarina flies over and tells it, “Book! Show me how far Lacey read!”

When the pages flip open and stop at Chapter Two, Katarina gives me an accusing look.

“All right! I fell asleep! But it was so boring! Why do I need to know what kind of gloves they wore in the fifteenth century?”

“Because you do, that’s why. I want you to rewrite this book report by tomorrow! After you actually read the book!” Katarina shakes her finger at me. “You don’t seem to appreciate the sacrifices I’m making for you. I’m sleeping in your jewelry box. I have to hide from your excruciatingly loud family. And your cat has tried to eat me fourteen times!”

Feeling guilty, I pick up the godmothering history book and say, “All right! All right! I do appreciate what you’re doing for me. I’ll finish this. I’m sure you read it cover to cover.”

“Of course I did. I was an excellent student.”

The old book shudders a little, and the pages flip back to Chapter One. I look at Katarina, annoyed. “You stopped at Chapter One?”

Katarina slams the book shut and shrugs. “I agree; it’s a little dull. But until you get your client, that’s all there is.”

“When’s that going to be? Me getting a client, I mean.”

“I keep telling you, it’s up to the godmothers. It could be next month, or there could be a messenger at the door right now.”

There’s a loud knock at my closed bedroom door. I gawk at it in surprise.

Katarina snaps, “Well, answer it!”

I go to the door, a little excited. I hope I get to help somebody nice, somebody who really needs me.

But it’s not a messenger standing on the other side of the door; it’s my sister, Madison. She’s wearing one of her many, many pink tutus and has a feather in her hair. “Ta-da! We’re twins!”

“We who?”

Then I hear a small, sad meow.

I glance down and see my unhappy-looking orange cat, Julius, sitting at Madison’s feet. He’s also wearing a pink tutu, and Madison has Scotch-taped a feather to his head. “Madison! You’re humiliating him!”

“He looks beautiful.”

“He looks stupid!” I pick him up and hold him in my lap. “You can’t play with him like this. He’s not your cat.”

“But you never play with him anymore.”

I hate it when my five-year-old sister is right. Julius hasn’t been able to come into my room in weeks, because whenever he does, he tries to eat Katarina. (She’s the best kitty treat he’s ever had.)

I tell Madison, “Well, I’m going to play with him now.”

I close the door and sit on my bed with Julius in my arms. He purrs—and then he stiffens and makes a chirping sound. He’s spotted Katarina on my dresser; it’s all I can do to hold on to him.

Katarina points at the door. “That beast has to go!”

“But I miss him! And it’s his room, too.”

“Not anymore. Evict him!”

I can’t evict Julius; instead, I have a brilliant idea. I pull my magic wand out of my pocket. It’s about the size of a pin (usually they shrink the fairy to match the wand, but I’ve been able to avoid that so far).

“What do you think you’re doing?” Katarina asks.

“Fixing our Julius problem.” I raise the wand and chant, “This room is more bearable, when Katarina tastes terrible.” But I don’t toss the spell at Julius—I toss it at Katarina.

Katarina’s eyes cross when the spell hits her, and then they uncross and glare at me. “Lacey, you’ve entirely violated the student-teacher relationship. You are dis—”

Before I can stop him, Julius leaps away from me and half swallows Katarina, whose little feet kick wildly. Since her head is in Julius’s throat, I can’t hear the rest of what she’s hollering. Was she about to say: You are disgusting, disobedient, disappointing, or some other dis word entirely?

A second later Julius spits Katarina out. She lands on the dresser, her glasses askew and her hair dripping with cat spit. Shaking his head like he’s just tasted a rotten lemon, Julius gives Katarina one more sniff, and then, revolted, he jumps off the dresser onto the bed next to me.

Katarina straightens her glasses and finally finishes the sentence she started: “You are disgraceful!”

Disgraceful! A dis word I didn’t even think of. “Maybe I’m disgraceful, but my spell worked!”

Julius curls up on the bed and goes to sleep. He’s obviously decided that rotten-lemon-flavored fairies aren’t worth the trouble.

Katarina pulls a little brush out of my jewelry box and yanks it through her hair to get out the drool. “Fine! The fleabag can stay! Have fun setting your alarm clock for 12:01.”

“For 12:01?”

“You should know by now that every fairy godmother spell ends at midnight. And I refuse to be eaten by a cat while I’m sleeping—it’s so discombobulating!” (Another dis word!) “So you’ll have to recast your spell at 12:01.”

“Every day?”

“Consider it homework.”

Katarina crawls into the little jewelry box she uses as a bed. She mutters to herself, “I don’t taste terrible! Fairies taste delicious.” Then she licks her arm and shudders. “Ew. I do taste terrible!” The jewelry box snaps closed.

I sigh and set my alarm clock for 12:01. Now I even have homework in the middle of the night.

I rush into homeroom just as the first bell rings. Katarina used to come to school in my pocket, but she stopped doing that weeks ago. She told me, “As long as you don’t have a client, I might as well stay home and enjoy my miserable new life.” (Katarina’s exact words.)

My best friend, Sunny Varden, leans over as I slide into my chair. “Why are you late?”

“I’m not late!” I snap.

“Okay, you’re not late. Why are you crabby?” Sunny knows me better than anybody.

“Sorry. I had to get up at midnight to do a magic spell, and then I couldn’t go back to sleep.”

“Fun magic or homeschool magic?”

“Homeschool magic.”

Sunny gives me a sympathetic smile. “Katarina’s tough.”

There are only a few people who know about me and Katarina, and Sunny is one of them. Another is Paige Harrington, who was my first fairy godmother client and is now my other best friend.

Oh, there is one more person who knows about me and Katarina: the school’s former principal. But after I helped Principal Nazarino have her dream wedding with the basketball coach, they went to Hawaii for their honeymoon and decided to stay there forever. So now we have Principal Conehurst…whose voice suddenly blares out of the TV screen at the front of the classroom, which is showing a picture of the flag on the school’s front lawn.

“Good morning, Lincoln Middle School! Please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance.”

We used to do the pledge with no help from the television. But Principal Conehurst likes the morning webcast. It’s sort of a fake news program, just for the school. If Principal Conehurst was the only one doing the webcast, it wouldn’t be so bad. He’s got a low, rumbly voice that’s easy to ignore.

But after the pledge, the screen cuts to the school “newsroom,” which is actually a table in the library. Makayla Brandice, my least-favorite cheerleader, sits at a microphone pretending to be a newscaster and loving every second of it. “Good morning, Lincoln! This is Makayla Brandice, your eyes and ears on the school.” Now there’s a voice that’s not easy to ignore. She’s done so many cheers that her volume is set at extra loud and extra-extra irritating. “Today’s lunch menu is pasta with meat sauce and cheesy breadsticks. The side dishes are green beans and applesauce. Give me a Y-U-M for YUM!”

I put my head on my desk and moan. “Wake me when sixth grade is over.”

Sunny pats my arm and says, “Let’s go to the mall after school. That’ll make you feel better.”

“I can’t. Katarina says I can only miss magic homeschooling if I have something for real school.”

Sunny frowns. “Magic is cool—but that means you’re going to school twice every day. Once is hard enough.”

“I agree a million percent.”

On the screen, Makayla shuffles through her papers. “And don’t forget to be a Lincolnite!”

“What’s a Lincolnite?” I ask Sunny.

“It’s Principal Conehurst’s new name for all the after-school clubs.”

“Can’t we just call them after-school clubs?”

Sunny shrugs. “Lincolnite is fancier.”

Makayla talks a little louder on the TV, almost as if she can hear us interrupting her. “This afternoon is Lincolnite sign-up day in the school parking lot! There’s a club for everyone, even if you’re a total loser!” She smiles at the camera like she’s just said something really sweet and thoughtful.

Sunny turns to me and says, “Lacey! You should sign up for some clubs!”

“I don’t have time to join a club. I barely have time to eat.”

“Think about it. Katarina says you can skip magic homeschooling if you have something for school—and the clubs are a part of school.”

I do think about it. On the one hand, joining a bunch of clubs would give me more work to do. On the other hand, every time I’m at a club meeting, I won’t be with Katarina.

It’s a no-brainer! “Sunny, you’re a genius! I’ll text Paige, too.”

After our last classes, Sunny, Paige, and I meet at the edge of the school parking lot. Paige’s blond hair shines in the sun—she’s the prettiest girl I know. And even though she’s head cheerleader, she’s also really nice. At our school, at least, nice and cheerleader don’t usually go together. (See: Makayla.)

A long, long row of folding tables has been set up in the middle of the parking lot, with a huge sign in front: WELCOME LINCOLNITES!

There are tables for the French Club, the Spanish Club, the Practical Jokers Society, the Science Club, Craft-N-Crunch, the Anime-Maniacs, the Weightlifting Club, Speedcubing, the Toast Club (which isn’t about making speeches; it’s really about making the jam-and-butter kind), the Drama Club, the Uni-Cyclones, the History Club, Origami for World Peace, and Soccer Boot Camp. There’s even a table for the school webcast, where admiring kids cluster around Makayla like she’s a celebrity. Makayla was popular before the morning show—now she’s a TV star, or at least a webcast star.

“How many clubs do you want to join?” Paige asks me.

“One for every day of the week.”

Paige looks surprised. “Seriously?”

“Any club would be better than being home with Katarina.”

“I hear Makayla needs an assistant for the webcast,” Paige says, trying not to smile.

“Correction: almost any club would be better than Katarina.”

As we all walk along the tables, we decide to join a club together. Unlike me, Sunny and Paige only want to join one. (They’re not trying to get out of fairy godmother homeschooling.) We eventually decide to sign up for Craft-N-Crunch, which is run by Mrs. Fleecy, the school secretary. Mrs. Fleecy’s plan is for us to make jewelry (the craft part) and eat Rice Krispies treats (the crunch part). We like this plan.

“One club down, four to go!” I say.

Then we stop in front of the table for the Boy with the Longest Eyelashes in the World Club. (Joking!) It’s actually the table where Scott Dearden, the cutest boy in school, is signing up people for the Uni-Cyclones while riding a unicycle backward. He’s that talented.

“Hi, Lacey!” Scott calls out to me. “You’re signing up, right? We’ll have fun!”

Sunny smiles, Paige nudges me, and I turn bright red. I have to say right here: Scott is not my boyfriend. We’re just friends.

“Gee, Scott, I don’t think I’m coordinated enough for a unicycle.”

“If you can ride a bike, you can ride one of these! I’m a good teacher.”

“But I don’t have a unicycle.”

“You can buy one really cheap online.”

I hesitate and then sign his list. Maybe I’ll get killed, but unicycles do look like fun. Plus I’ll get to spend time with Scott. Don’t tell Sunny and Paige I said that.

A couple of minutes later, I also sign up for the French Club (ooh la la!) and the Donate a Sheep Club (ewe la la!), and I just need one more to fill out my schedule.

We walk up to a table that has an enormous sign made out of aluminum foil: FUTURE FLYERS. The kid at the table, Martin Shembly, sees us and waves excitedly. “Hi, guys! You’re just in time for the demonstration!”

Paige, Sunny, and I haven’t known Martin very long. What I mainly know is that he’s really brainy. He plays the violin and is both a Trekkie and a Lord of the Rings fanatic. He’s also funny and, beneath his thick glasses, sort of cute.

Martin and Sunny have been hanging out some while I’ve been busy with homeschooling. They watch the super duper extended versions of the Lord of the Rings movies at Sunny’s house, and I know she kind of likes him. But that’s all I know, because I’ve been a horrible friend lately.

Usually, when you’re best friends with someone, you know every detail about what’s going on with them. But usually you don’t have a three-inch-tall fairy living in your bedroom and taking up all your time.

We walk closer to Martin’s table and see that he’s holding a G.I. Joe doll (correction: action figure—boys get upset when you call them dolls) that has a little backpack strapped to its back. Maybe it’s a parachute.

Sunny asks Martin, “Didn’t your mom say you don’t have time for a club?”

“What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. This is going to be maar! That’s Elvish for great and excellent!”

Just when I thought Martin couldn’t get any more unusual, he starts talking Elf! No wonder people think he’s a little strange.

“What’s the club about?” Paige asks.

“We’re going to build a real, working, low-cost jetpack! I’ve got the plans all drawn up—I just need six club members with leaf blowers,” Martin explains. “And by the end of the month, we’ll be flying!”

Sunny picks up the clipboard with the sign-up sheet. “How many people do you have so far?”

“Well, no one. That’s why I’m doing this demonstration.” Martin picks up a bullhorn and turns it on, sending out an ear-shattering screech of feedback. Kids all around us look at him and cover their ears. “Everybody! Prepare to be amazed!”

He holds the G.I. Joe figure in the air. “By the end of the month, my goal is to make a working, full-size version of this!” The kids watch, curious, as he pushes a button on G.I. Joe’s backpack.

But Joe doesn’t fly—he just makes a really, really, really loud farting noise: POOOT!

Every kid in the parking lot laughs. I do, too. I can’t help myself—farts are funny. But when Martin turns bright red and looks miserable, I feel guilty.

When the laughter finally dies down (it takes a long time), Sunny tells Martin, “It almost worked. And nobody thought you made the sound.”

At the edge of the parking lot, Makayla peers into her cell phone camera and says, loudly, “This is Makayla Brandice, your eyes and ears of the school. And that was a demonstration of a so-called jetpack.”

The phone of almost every kid in the parking lot—including mine—buzzes with a school webcast alert. I look at it and see that Makayla has uploaded a video with the heading “Fartin’ Martin.” It already has over two hundred clicks, and the numbers are going up every second.

Martin looks away from his own phone, straightens his shoulders, and says, “Onward! Every great invention has a few bumps along the way.” He turns to me, Sunny, and Paige hopefully. “You guys are signing up, right? The club meets Thursdays.”

Sunny, Paige, and I all look at each other. We like Martin, but that’s when Craft-N-Crunch meets. Future flying just can’t compete with jewelry and Rice Krispies.

“We can’t,” I say. “We already signed up with Mrs. Fleecy.”

Sunny tells him, “But don’t worry! A lot of kids are going to think your club is really great. You won’t even miss us.”

Then there’s another fart from G.I. Joe.

Madison sticks Mom’s cell phone into my face: “POOOT!” She giggles hysterically.

Mom and Dad stand at the Hungry Moose’s prep table, scooping the middles out of dozens of little, round loaves. “Madison! Cut the farts!” Mom yells.

Dad laughs, but he stops when Mom gives him a look. “Madison. Turn off the phone.”

“But it’s sooooooo funny!”

I peer down at the screen and see that the Fartin’ Martin video now has over four thousand views. He’s never going to live this down.

Trying to change the subject, I ask Mom and Dad about the scooped-out loaves.

“They’re bread bowls for the chili,” Dad says.

“And you know what chili makes you do!” Madison squeals as she hits play on the video. The sound of farting fills the kitchen.

“Madison, I mean it!” Mom says. “No more farting!”

Dad and I can’t help it: we laugh.

After a moment, Mom laughs, too. “It might not have been the best day to serve beans.”

When I get home, I’m greeted by a big KEEP OUT sign on my closed bedroom door. It’s in my handwriting, which is odd because I didn’t write it. And the door is locked, which is also odd because my door doesn’t lock.

I knock. “Katarina? Let me in!”

“What’s the magic word?” Katarina trills from inside.

I can’t believe I have to ask permission to get into my own room. “Please let me in.”

There’s a faint click and the door swings open. I go into my room, not knowing what to expect. I certainly don’t expect this.…

My small, cozy room—the one where everything is arranged just the way I like it—has been transformed into a gigantic palace bedroom. The walls are covered with tapestries and gold paint. (Knowing Katarina, it’s probably real gold.) Glittering crystal chandeliers, lit by flickering candles, hang from the ceiling. And the bed is bigger than any bed I’ve ever seen.

Katarina, looking tiny, lounges on a silk pillow, reading an equally tiny copy of French Vogue. “Hello, Lacey. I’ve done a little redecorating. Isn’t it lovely?”

“Lovely? Where’s my stuff? Where’s my computer? Where are my clothes?”

“Stop whining. They’ll be back at midnight. This is the first time I’ve had a permanent home, and I want to be comfortable.”

“My room was comfortable!”

Katarina rolls her eyes.

I think about what she just said. “Wait a minute. What do you mean, it’s the first time you’ve had a permanent home? Don’t you have a little house or an apartment someplace? Or a fairy condo?”

Katarina shakes her head. “I’m always on assignment. If I do get a few days off, I stay at the Ritz in Paris.”

“You rent a room?”

“No, I stay in a flower arrangement in the Coco Chanel Suite. It’s heavenly! I used to stay in an orchid plant in the Elton John Suite, but there were too many parties.”

I’ve never thought about what Katarina’s life is like when she’s not with me. “So you’ve never had a home? Or a family?”

“Homes! Families! Stop asking me so many questions!” She waves her hand at my redecorated room. “You’re a fairy godmother now. This is a room suitable for a fairy godmother.”



"With all the twists, mishaps, and slapstick of a sitcom, Brauner and Mattson's lively debut will hook readers. Halpin's energetic b&w illustrations are frosting on this comedic confection of a book."—Publishers Weekly

    "Featuring zany escapades, madcap magic and a cantankerous fairy godmother, this effervescent series debut enchants."—Kirkus

    "This modern spin on a popular fairy tale will leave tweens LOLing."—Booklist Online

    "Quick-witted and spunky, Lacey beguiles readers in her second adventure."—Kirkus
  • On Sale
    Oct 28, 2014
    Page Count
    256 pages