Seven Spells to Sunday

~ A Novel by Andre Norton

Written with Phyllis Miller


Synopsis ~

Write-up from front flap of Hardcover edition ~

Nine-year-old Monnie could hardly remember all the foster homes she’d lived in. Her present one wasn’t so bad except for Bim, the other foster child who lived there. He was scared of his own shadow and tagged after Monnie all the time. She hated this, especially once she’d found the strange old mailbox in a nearby vacant lot. It was painted a faded purple, with seven stars in a row on its lid. Even though Bim, like a copycat, wrote his name on it in magic marker, just as Monnie had, he didn’t know – or did he? – that she had also put a note inside, asking for a letter, something that would be her very own. When extraordinary answers began to appear in the box, both children were plunged into the strangest week they had ever known, a week that changed their lives.
Andre Norton, awarded the Gandalf Award for her “Life’s Work in Fantasy” and Phyllis Miller, whose first book this is, have created a world in which magic and everyday life are skillfully blended. This compelling story of two unhappy children who are forced to face up to their faults and problems is filled with sensitive insights, a strong sense of reality and rising excitement.


Write-up from back of Paperback edition ~

For unhappy Monnie Fitts and timid Bim Ross - two foster children who live with the Johnsons - finding an old, faded purple mailbox in a vacant lot was to be their secret. The seven mysterious stars painted on the door made it even more important - and strange. Once they wrote their names on it, life would be different for them.
Each day, as Monnie and Bim visit the mailbox, unusual gifts and note appear - a broom, a wand, a light - even a voo-don’t doll; in all, six magical wonders that plunge them deep into a week of unexplained happenings.
Not until the seventh suspenseful day do they know where the powerful spells will lead them. Frightened, but brave, the two children enter a supernatural world to find answers only they can understand.


Write-up from a fan ~

An orphan girl in a foster home sets up a mailbox in a vacant lot, wanting to receive something that is hers alone. An orphan boy from nearby, in the same situation, adds his name to the mailbox, and they begin getting some strange things which eventually enable them to better themselves and their situation. ~ SL


I'm guessing that the two protagonists are about nine or ten years old. Monnie Fitts and Bim Ross have been in several foster homes over the years and now they live with Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and their daughter, Stella. Monnie is sullen, depressed and feeling outcast. Bim is timid, afraid of all the bullies in town and a loner. One day rummaging around a vacant lot full of junk, Monnie finds a faded purple mailbox (the rural type) with seven stars on the door and a flag for a postman to raise when he would put mail in it. She writes her name on it with a red felt-tipped marker. Then she writes a not stating her name and a request for a letter and puts it in the box Bim shows up and to Monnie's disgust, writes his name on it too. On Monday, she finds a letter saying, "Sweep Clean and a small silver broom (like a charm bracelet charm) Then the next day Bim finds a n envelope with the message "Sa Boom" and a tiny magic wand. They alternate finding things in the mailbox with varying spell-binding results. The story also contains a spooky old house with seven stars on the mantelpiece and a mysterious old woman knitting away. All the artifacts the kids find impact their lives in totally amazing and captivating ways. A Marvelous Read. I had forgotten how good it is. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: April 1st, 1979
When two foster children write their names on an old mailbox found in a junkyard, they both begin to receive strange messages. Monnie, almost ten, gets a miniature broom with the words "sweep clean," a "Voo-don't" doll that brings good to people, and a mirror from which emerges another Monnie who does the bad things that the real Monnie had wished to do. For Bim there's a small wand, a strange little light, and finally a silver star through which both children are transported to an old house with a mysterious old woman knitting fates and the doubles of both children taunting and tempting them. Overcoming their "bad" selves in an undramatic encounter, the two are released; the seventh and last gift from the mailbox is a pair of miniature houses just like the one Monnie had always dreamed of--and, they learn, just like the one to which both will be going to live until they grow up. But the magic is as arbitrary as the real-life happy ending, the gifts mostly mechanical gimmicks with no compelling power, and the self-confrontations perfunctory. 


Booklist Review ~ April 01, 1979
An old mailbox, painted purple and bedecked with silver stars, mysteriously answers Monnie's request for a letter of her very own. Unhappy in yet another foster home situation, Monnie unleashes her resentment against everyone including Bim, an overly timid fellow dweller in the Johnson home, who adds his name to the mailbox door. During the following week, the two receive alternating gifts, each containing strange messages and spells. The Culminating events prove frightening but make Monnie and Bim see themselves clearly, thus bringing changes to their lives and hope for the future. Though the whys and wherefores of the magic are shadowy, its power is gripping; and beyond a somewhat contrived ending, the children emerge as believable characters.


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1979 in Publishers Weekly, March
1979 by P. Manning in School Library Journal, March
1979 by Suzette Haden Elgin in Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review (fnz), May, reprinted in: 2009 in Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review: The Complete Series, Vol. I, No. 1-Vol. II, No. 13, January 1979-February 1980, and Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review: The Complete Series, 1979-1980
2021 by Judith Tarr


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1979) Published by Atheneum, HC, 0-689-50134-X, LCCN 78024362, $9.95, 136pg ~ cover by Kinuko Craft {Brown Cloth Boards and End Papers # 921,47 on Front Flap}
  • (1979) Published by MacMillan, HC, $7.95, 144pg ~ Canadian printing ~ cover by Kinuko Craft
  • (1980) Published by Pocket (Archway), PB, 0-671-56086-7, $1.95, 168pg ~ cover by Milo


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (1994) Published in Moscow, by Sigma Press and Zelenograd, by Zelenogradskaya Books, 5-863-14031-3, HC, 416pg ~ cover by D. Avvakumov ~ Russian title Семь чудес к воскресенью [Seven Wonders by Sunday]


    • "The World of Star Co'ot" ~ pp. 3-166
      • "Star Ka'at" as "Star Co'ot" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 4-56
      • "Star Ka'at World" as "The World of Star Co'ot" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 56-117
      • "Star Ka'ats and the Plant People" as "Star co'otes and intelligent plants" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 117-166
    • "Seven Spells to Sunday" as "Seven Wonders by Sunday" ~ translated by T. Korobkova, pp. 167-270
    • "Octagon Magic" as "The Magic House" ~ translation by M. Shamray, pp. 271-413


Ukrainian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (2017) Published in Kyiv, Ukraine, by Globe (Fanzine), no ISBN, HC, 824pg ~ cover by N. Deligaris ~ Ukrainian title Верхом на зелёном драконе [Riding on a green dragon] ~ Limited to 10 copies


    • "House of Shadows" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 5-110
    • "Wizard's World" as "The World of Sorcerers" ~ pp. 111-146
    • "Seven Spells to Sunday" as "Seven Wonders by Sunday" ~ translated by T. Korobkova, pp. 147-224
    • "Tiger Burning Bright" as "Tiger, light burning" ~ translation by N. Nekrasova, pp. 225-558
    • "Sneeze on Sunday" as "Sneezing on Sunday" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 559-706
    • "Ride the Green Dragon" as "Riding a Green Dragon" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 707-822


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