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The Unseen by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
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Xandra Hobson feels angry and very out of place in her large family. Since her parents often aren't at home and her siblings irritate her, she's left to her own devices to keep herself entertained. The magic begins when Xandra rescues an injured egret that left behind a magical feather.

This is a wonderful fantasy book that keeps the imagination of a child open to creativity of the mind. I love this book because I like a dose of magic every once in a while. I really like Xandra's character and how she is wrong about her ideas of her family.

One extension would be to have the students write about what they would do if they discovered a magical feather like Xandra did, and how they would try to use their own magic. Be descriptive and creative. A second extension could be to make a chart comparing reality and fantasy and list elements of the novel that qualify under each category. ( )
  heather_hill | Feb 29, 2008 |
The Unseen is about young Alexandra (Xandra) Hobson, who has a large family that she doesn’t seem to have a place in, and who rescues animals, to which her parents are allergic. After receiving a special feather as a gift for rescuing a wounded bird, Xandra learns from her new friend Belinda that the feather is a key to viewing unseen, phantom creatures that very few can see. Some are like the animals that Xandra has rescued but others are monsters.

Xandra must learn how to control what she sees in the unseen and what it is about her that brings out the monsters. She learns a great deal about herself, the family that she has not really wanted to be a part of, what it means to be a friend, and that sometimes you can do great harm without meaning to. If she can learn to be a better person then maybe the unseen monsters will leave her alone and she can enjoy the good creatures from the unseen.

The author, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, is a recipient of three Newbery Honor Awards sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA).
Reviewed by Michelle, Three Rivers Public Library
  3RiversLibrary | Jan 30, 2008 |
This is a strange novel about a girl who lives in a rich family surrounded by lots of brothers and sisters. The only thing that makes her feel happy is to care for sick animals and after she looks after an Egret, it leaves behind a beautiful feather. A new girl at school called Belinda tells her it’s a “key” which unlocks some strange dark creatures that chase her and bite her on the legs. Why does it unlock unpleasant creatures and not pleasant ones and how can she get rid of them?
  nicsreads | Mar 26, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440419301, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:48 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Feeling angry and out-of-place in her large family, twelve-year-old Xandra finds a magical key to a world of ghostly, sometimes frightening, phantoms that help her see herself and her siblings more clearly.

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