"Hecate cast a spell on her pretty bracelet. All the silver charms turned into nasty things - a tiny silver hand grenade that really worked, a live silver spider, a silver rat-trap all set to spring,
a silver dagger that would stab a bee, a tiny silver snake that wriggled and hissed."
We have a large audio book collection in our school library so I often borrow a few over holidays when I may be taking a longer car trip.
Thalia the Failure is a very old book. It was published in 1984 but it is still a really great book to read or listen to, as I did with the audio book.
Thalia does not want to go to Madame Aquila's Academy for witches she would much prefer to go to Ferntree Primary with her friends Lyneve and Tracy Dodds but she is a polite girl and she does not want to cause a fuss so she sets off for her new school and tries really hard in every class but she just can't do any of the things her teachers expect and worse everything seems to go horribly wrong.
Magic with Ms Fizz
Broom handling with Madame Aquila
Crystal ball gazing with Fortuna the Gypsy
Cooking with Monsieur Diable
Madame Aquila keen to pass Thalia because Mrs Birtles has promised to gift the school a new planetarium. The description of Madame Aquila is one you could use with a class :
"Madame was most impressive to look at. Her gown was made of fine cloth spun especially by a whole colony of funnel-web spiders, and her fingernails had never been cut in her life. They were twenty centimetres long and curled like French horns."
Her classmates bully and tease Thalia. Early on they send her to Coventry. Thalia knew this meant no one would talk to her but what it really means is they send her to the real city of Coventry. At the final graduation everything comes to a head and Thalia explodes. This is actually a good thing because it gives Madame Aquila the idea to say Thalia has skills beyond those of the academy "she'll have to change to a different school. With powers such as we have just witnessed, it would be much too dangerous to award her a diploma to practice magic."
The audio book is read by Caroline Lee. This little book should still be in most school libraries and would make a perfect read-aloud for Grades 2 and 3.