Zilpha Keatley Snyder
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Xandra Hobson has always been fascinated by magic. So when she rescues a beautiful wounded bird, she is convinced that the glowing white feather it leaves behind must be magical. When she brings the feather to school, she is surprised to find that Belinda is interested in it, too. Belinda is a weird girl whom everybody makes fun of. Xandra doesn’t want to be seen with her, but Belinda seems to know something about the feather—so Xandra decides to befriend her. Belinda calls the feather a key.
But a key to what? And how does it work? When Xandra tries to use the key, she becomes aware of an unseen world, full of phantoms. Some are soft and cuddly, like the young animals she has rescued. But others are terrifying monsters. Could the key’s magic be evil? Xandra needs Belinda to help her explore the unseen, but she also needs to learn to help herself if the key is to become a gift and not a nightmare.
From the Hardcover edition.
sound like?” “A kind of soft buzzing noise, like tiny motors. Or like purring. Like purring kittens,” Xandra said. “And bird sounds too. Like birds chirping and a kind of clicking noise. Like …” She paused. “Like running a stick along fence posts.” Belinda was nodding. “The baby owl?” she asked. “Yes,” Xandra whispered excitedly. “Like the noise Ratchet made when he wanted to be fed.” She was turning in a circle, trying to tell where the sounds were coming from, when she noticed something
the verge of yelling, “Go away, all of you. Go away and leave me alone.” But nobody left until the tall policeman said he didn't think he was needed any longer and that the next thing that ought to be done was to “get that child to a doctor.” And even though she resented being called a child, Xandra was pleased with the result, which was that a lot of Hobsons left the room. IT WAS CLARA who drove Xandra to the doctor's office. Henry himself was going to take her, but when Clara offered to do
wouldn't mind bringing you up a tray.” Much to her own surprise, Xandra insisted she could come to the table. AFTER CLARA LEFT the family room, there was still almost half an hour before dinnertime. Half an hour for Xandra to wonder why she'd chosen to eat in the dining room with all the other Hobsons when she could have had a private dinner in her own room, in her own bed, surrounded by her animals. It was a choice that had obviously surprised Clara, not to mention Xandra herself. It
hadn't done in a long time. And Xandra reacted in a way that had become even more rare and unusual. Not that she hugged back, but neither did she frown and pull away. Left alone again, Xandra found herself moving slowly and almost against her will back to the window. She was almost there when there was another knock on the door. This time the visitor was Victoria. Victoria, still in her school clothes and looking …well, looking, as always, not exactly glamorous perhaps, but close enough that
squared her shoulders, took a deep breath and started off up the dirt road. The car dump came first. A place where people must have been dumping the crumpled and rusted bodies of their very dead cars for a great many years. Soon after the car dump was the first of three small tumbledown houses. And then nothing more for a long way except weed-grown fields. Just as before, all that empty space gave Xandra an uneasy, no-place-to-hide feeling, which she tried to ignore without much success. Turning