________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 29. . . .March 28, 2014


Icespell (Frogspell #3).

C. J. Busby. Illustrated by David Wyatt.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2014.
155 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-2479-9.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Meredith Harrison-Lim.

*** /4



Max was puzzled. He’d felt the magic flow. He’d definitely felt it hit the stone and it should have been a solid lump of ice by now. But something was resisting the spell. It was as if the stone was enchanted, or bigger than it looked, or shielded somehow from his magic. It was some trick of Snotty’s, he was sure of it. Well, Snotty was going to get a shock.

Max reached for every last drop of magic he could gather and shaped it into the icespell. Just as he did so, he noticed a tiny ant crawling on the grey flint surface, and as quickly as he could, wove an extra thread into the spell to protect any living creature on the rock as it was iced. Then he flung the magic at the flint in a great flood of power.

The stone disappeared into the middle of a perfect sparkling crystal of solid ice.

Olivia let out her breath, and Max looked up in triumph at Snotty.

Snotty looked distinctly pale and slightly taken aback, but he recovered swiftly. He clapped slowly and turned to Jerome.

“Well, then, I suppose we’d better give him his sword back. He’ll be needing it soon anyway, eh Jerome?”

Jerome, looking ever so slightly sick, nodded.


Icespell is the third book in the four-part “Frogspell” series by C.J. Busby that concerns the escapades of 11-year-old Max Pendragon, his nine-year-old sister Olivia, and their pets, the rat Ferocious and the dragon Aldophus. In this episode, Max and Olivia are staying at the Castle Camelot, preparing for the Festival of Chivalry which is to occur in three-weeks time. Max is taking private lessons with the great wizard Merlin and has just advanced to completing spells without the aid of potions. To his misfortune, the Pendragons’ enemies, Snotty Hogsbottom and Lady Morgana, use Max’s developing magical abilities against him, tricking him into irreversibly spelling the entire castle and its occupants into a giant ice mountain. With the aid of their new friend, the duck Vortigern, the quartet seek out Aldophus’s Great Aunt Wilhelmina and her friend, the Lady, in order to turn the castle and its inhabitants back to their non-frosty states. While the Lady produces a potion that will help Max remove the spell on the castle, Snotty interferes and tries his best to destroy the remedy. The Pendgragons must return to the castle and hope for the best with their greatly diminished supply of potion and confront Lady Morgana as she arrives bearing her own solution to the icespell problem.

     This latest addition in the “Frogspell” series continues to produce a whimsical and high-spirited story that is appealing to both younger and older kids alike. In this book, the story focuses on how the simple act of allowing one’s pride to get the best of one’s self can have grave consequences. While Max at the end of the story does not face personal consequences for his choices, throughout the story he regrets his impulsiveness, realizing how he has placed his friends and family in danger due to his decisions to not inform an adult about Snotty’s suspicious behaviours and to accept a foolish challenge. The additional characters of the duck Vertigern, the Lady, and Sir Lionel help the story continue to feel fresh, given that the story arc closely mirrors the previous books in the series. The further insight into thoughts of Jerome Stodmarsh, the constant, yet reluctant, companion of Snotty Hogsbottom, is also a beneficial inclusion.

     The plot is well-paced and unfolds with an appropriate number of obstacles and solutions for the length of the book. Compared to the previous installment in the “Frogspell” series, the climax of this novel provides more suspense and satisfaction. David Wyatt once again illustrates the fantasy with small black and white illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. These depict an event explored in the chapter and may be enjoyed by less-confident readers. As always, C.J. Busby artfully introduces the readers to the next adventure that Max and Olivia will experience in their quest to see Lady Morgana and Snotty Hogsbottom be brought to justice.


Meredith Harrison-Lim is a MLIS graduate working for the Federal Government in the National Capital Region.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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