The Boggart

The Boggart

by Susan Cooper


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In a tumbledown castle in the Western Highlands of Scotland lives the Boggart. He is invisible — an ancient mischievous spirit, solitary and sly, born of a magic as old as the rocks and the waves. He has lived in Castle Keep for centuries, playing tricks on the owners. But the last Scottish owner has died and left the castle to his great-nephew Robert Volnik of Toronto, Canada. The Volnik family — including Emily and her nine-year-old computer genius brother Jessup — visit Castle Keep, and when they return to Toronto, they unwittingly take the Boggart with them.
The astonishments, delight, and horrors that invade their lives with the arrival of the Boggart fill this swiftly moving story. The collision of modern techology and the Old Magic brings perils nobody could have imagined — and, in the end, an amazing and touching solution to the problem of the Boggart who has found himself on the wrong side of the ocean.
Sometimes extremely funny, sometimes wildly scary,and always totally absorbing, this remarkable story — brilliantly imagined and beautifully written — marks the return of the Newbery Award winner Susan Cooper to the field of novels for young readers. An outstanding achievement, The Boggart will work its special magic on all who read it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534420113
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: 02/27/2018
Series: Boggart Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 506,067
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Susan Cooper is one of our foremost children’s authors; her classic five-book fantasy sequence The Dark Is Rising has sold millions of copies worldwide. Her many books have won the Newbery Medal, a Newbery Honor, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and been shortlisted five times for the Carnegie Medal. She combines fantasy with history in Victory (a Washington Post Top Ten for Children novel), King of Shadows and Ghost Hawk, and her magical The Boggart and the Monster, second in a trilogy, won the Scottish Arts Council’s Children’s Book Award. Susan Cooper lives on a saltmarsh island in Massachusetts, and you can visit her online at

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Kirkus Reviews, starred review A comfortably old-fashioned story...splendidly comical.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide to

The Boggart & The Boggart and the Monster
By Susan Cooper

About the Books

“As long as writers with Susan Cooper’s skill continue to publish,” The New York Times observed, “magic is always available.” And magic—the magic of the old ways and the modern wizardry of our new technologies—is at the heart of this distinguished pair of fantasies. In their first adventure, The Bogart, Emily Volnik and her brother Jessup inadvertently transport an ancient spirit from his ancestral castle in Scotland all the way to their home in Toronto. A mischievous creature, mostly invisible but also able to shape-shift at will, the boggart gleefully runs amok amongst the gadgetry of his new world—until he realizes how much he misses his old one. “A lively story,” announced School Library Journal in its starred review, “compelling from first page to last, and a good bet for a read aloud.” Its equally acclaimed sequel, The Boggart and the Monster, finds the boggart back in Scotland, trying to revive the magical powers of his long-lost cousin, the Loch Ness monster. “The play has plenty of sparkling complications,” wrote Booklist. “The clever premise and great characters will leave kids clamoring for more.”

Discussion Topics

1. Early on in The Boggart, the creature is described as “one of the Old Things of the world, he was not made for human warmth… A boggart, by his nature, feels warmth for no one.” Yet this boggart also seems very human, even childlike, at times. What are some of the emotions he experiences? How do his emotional attachments and needs guide his behavior?
2. Why are most of the adults depicted in these novels reluctant to believe that the boggart exists? Would you also be skeptical? Why or why not?
3. The boggart is stung when Emily asks him to avoid getting her and her brother into trouble in The Boggart. “Didn’t the girl know that boggarts live for mischief, not for harm?” What is the difference between mischief and harm? Does the boggart always understand the difference? Do you or your friends?
4. How could the boggart and the MacDevon clan, which includes modern day members Emily and Jessup Volnick, be related to each other? What is the old legend that links them?
5. Boggarts never die. What are the advantages of immortality? What are the disadvantages?
6. Even though he is an ancient creature, the boggart has a special affinity for computers. Jessup speculates that is because both the computer and the boggart are primarily made up of electrical impulses. What do you think? Could there be other reasons for the boggart’s attraction to computers?
7. In his second adventure, the boggart seems more willing to communicate with humans. How does he do it? Why does he do it? Does he trust humans more? Does he need them more?
8. In The Boggart, the modern world is described as “a world which had driven out the Old Things and buried the Wild Magic deep under layers of reason and time.” Do you believe this is an accurate depiction of modern life? Do you think “Wild Magic” has been buried? Do you think it ever existed?

Projects and Research

• In both novels, the boggart’s antics capture the overheated attention of the media. Take note of how the media cover big stories in your community. Do you think the coverage is fair and factual? Do you think some stories get too much attention? Why?
• On a map, track Emily and Jessup Volnick’s journeys back and forth from Toronto to the west coast of Scotland. Be sure to include their stopovers in London and Edinburgh. If possible, work with a travel agent to map out exact itineraries by air, train, and road.
• What would happen if the boggart visited your home or school? Would it be fun, disastrous, or a little of both? Write an original story.
• The boggart sometimes communicates with humans in Gaelic. Find out more about this ancient language. In what countries or regions was it spoken? What language largely replaced Gaelic? Why? Try to find written examples of the language.
• Imagine that you are a drama critic for a Toronto newspaper. Write a review of the extraordinary performance of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline that occurs in The Boggart.
• Emily and Jessup Volnik are from Canada, yet they are sometimes mistaken for U.S. citizens when they are in Scotland. The children are quick to point out their proper nationality. Research some of the social and cultural differences between the United States and Canada. Though the two countries have a long history of friendly relations, are there also points of disagreement? Which country has a stronger link to Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom? Why?
• Prepare a feast fit for a boggart. Be sure to include a sampling of all his favorite foods—old treats as well as newfound delights.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Customer Reviews

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The Boggart 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
t1bclasslibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Volnik family has picked up a boggart from their anscestral castle in Scotland, and suddenly the boggart¿s tricks go from silly and upsetting to dangerous. The children, Emily and Jess finally manage to get the boggart out of their lives and send him back to the castle in Scotland where his harm is minor.
abcornils on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fun book that I read to help prepare my son for Battle of the Books. I hope he enjoys it. Only criticism; it could have been longer.
rotheche on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Utterly endearing. Susan Cooper's long been one of my favourite authors and she's lost none of her charm: this book is eminently readable even for an adult. The depiction of the Boggart is effective - it's no sweet Tinkerbell, but a thing of ancient magic and no morality - and the family the Boggart encounters is equally well-drawn. The computer technology is...well, a bit dodgy, but I can forgive that for the rest of the book.
bookczuk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this up because I love Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence, and wanted to try something else of hers. Once again, she's got magic and mayhem together blending history and modern day (though in actuality, the story was written nearly 2 decades ago, and the changes in technology, particularly computer technology, were apparent.) Still, it was a fine story, and combined enough folk lore to keep me reading. There are apparently more in the series, but I may not go on. So many books still to read out there, and I'm not getting younger.
StefanY on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Boggart is a fairly entertaining young adult novel. It's a fast paced story that is difficult to put down yet still challenging enough for young readers. The characters are easy for kids to relate to even if the technology referenced throughout the book is very outdated by today's standards.While visiting their inherited castle in Ireland, the Volnik family mistakenly traps and takes the castle's boggart back to Canada with them. Strange occurrences begin to happen from the moment of the boggart's delivery and the family becomes more and more stressed out by these increasingly unexplainable happenings.This was a quick, fun read that I would recommend for 4th through 6th graders. There is no really objectionable material and only some mild violence. I found the storyline to be engaging and not your typical run-of-the-mill ghost story. The author does a nice job of allowing the reader to become sympathetic towards the main characters including the boggart and there is some good humor included throughout the novel.
LeslitGS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Emily and Jessup always figured themselves to be a pair of normal teens living a normal life until their mother inherits a castle from a distant relative in Scotland. After they visit and come back home, however, the kids find out that they inherited a bit more than the building and furnishings. A boggart, a mischievous creature straight out of the myths, is trapped and shipped with Emily's rolltop desk. Having been living in a castle with no modernity, the boggart immediately begins acclimating himself to the new toys of technology and wreaking absolute havoc on the family. And now the kids have to get the boggart home before things get too crazy.Susan Cooper is not an uncommon name in the library circuit, best-known, perhaps, for her Dark is Rising series, this book was not only my introduction to her, but a staple through elementary school and something I revisited off and on thereafter. Until only a month ago, however, I did not own it. Thank God for little second-hand bookstores filled with unexpected treasures, right? Right.While all of the humanoid characters are pleasant and relatable, one of the most enchanting aspects of this novel is the depiction of the boggart itself, within its home castle. A nameless, genderless spirit thousands of years old, witness to history itself, not only of the castle but the land surrounding. It is, in a sense, emotionless. Yet, at the same time, when it finds an emotion, it is overcome--to the point of hiding and sleeping for days or weeks [it has the ability to sleep for decades, if the fancy strikes]. Without being human in feeling, the creature manages to be easy to connect with. Especially after the charm of the new world wears down to the nub.The story is deliberately paced, walking the reader through introductions and establishing the settings while steadily moving through the the plot. As with other texts that were favorites from childhood, this did not hold up quite as well as I might have hoped. Aside from being heavily dated technology-wise [the desk-top was a black and white screen, and I have a splendid recollection of DOS programs that supply amusing filler for how it must have been intended to appear], the text is almost too simple and too easy to read to be enjoyable at advanced leisure reading. Not being a particularly difficult novel, it is not something that a reader will have to dig through, but rather glide along. Though I mentioned I enjoyed it years afterward, I would say it was as a refuge from the reading or scholastics at the time. For purely 'heck, I'll read that one again''s lacking.But if you haven't experienced it, Cooper is fun. Someday I'll read that Dark is Rising series and really get what she's about as a published writer. Or something like that. If you're in fourth or fifth grade, it might just be something you'd enjoy.
meerka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very juvenile, but in a fun way. House spirit gets moved from Scotland to Toronto and must convince children he exists and they must help his return. Very beautiful portion where Boggart takes control of lighting in theater.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Itts a great book with a great meaning
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If u do look close u can see it holding a fish lol
V3NM More than 1 year ago
i read this book as a kid and it was nice to read it again on my nook. i like how on the cover if you look closely you can see the boggart holding a fish
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Guest More than 1 year ago
It's not the best ever. In the begining it starts out pretty boring, but then you get into it. I gave it three stars because it's OK, but not great. O yea, the scariest thing about the book was on the book I got this girl with crutches and a blonde ponytail ... (i dont have crutches) but the girl's hair and face looked exactly like me ...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is funny, exciting, and great. It is also very entertaining. A book that once you start it you can't stop reading it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story!!!! Old folk legends mixed with nischief mayhem and mystrey, Susan Cooper has done it again!!! = )
Guest More than 1 year ago
A thrilling book, filled with old magic. Emily and Jessup are two people I'll never forget! I highly recomend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Boggart is my absolute favorite book. Susan Cooper has a true gift with storytelling that goes far beyond a quick children's read. Everything is described with such beauty and emotion, I think it has brought me to tears each of the many times I have read it. Her plot is well realized, and although simple, well connected. She brings in many elements such as Scottland and Macbeth to give the book depth; Shakespere and magic are reccuring themes in her other books. I think this book has many similar qualities to Harry Potter, But is lighter than the Phillip Pullman books. I reccomend this book to all ages, as long as you still believe in magic, even if its only a little. The tapes read by David Rintoul are also highly reccomended; he did an amazing job.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It has fuuny and somewhat scary parts in it. I really wish Susan Cooper would write another book in the Boggart series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that the book is a great book if you have an imagination. I think that the book would have been better if they would've had another chapter. I think this book has a lot of realistic scenes. This book also has a lot of desision-making such as should Emily tell her parents about the Boggart. I enjoyed this book and I do recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really like the main character (The Boggart). He was a tricky and a fun guy. I liked the way he acted like a little kid.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like Harry Potter tham you will like this. Its just as magical as Harry Potter. BUY THIS BOOK!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really love this book and should be thanking my teacher for letting me borrow it. If you plan on reading this book you might as well buy the other!!!