Meeting Schedule - Howl's Moving Castle

Project - Howl's Moving Castle

    We didn't do a project for Howl's Moving Castle. But here are some ideas for your book group project.
    Make a wizard hat -
    Make a magic wand -

    Conjure up your own spell. Make a list of interesting items that would go into a spell and then try to make it rhyme. For example:
          What a wonderful spell this would be
          If I mixed sugar and a bit of tea
          Add some water and lemon drops too
          And let's find something that will make it blue

    You get the idea...

    Review - Howl's Moving Castle

      Wow! What a ride. From the start, Howl's Moving Castlegrabs you and takes you on a wild ride of magic, adventure, mystery and love.

      At the beginning of the story, we meet Sophie, a plain young hat-maker. For some reason, the Witch of the Waste casts a spell on her and Sophie is instantaneously an old woman. She can't tell anyone about the spell and ironically sees the spell as an opportunity to set out on her own.

      Tired and weary from a day of walking, Sophie must seek refuge in Howl's moving castle. Inside, she finds an unholy mess. She then meets the fire demon Calcifer, Howl's apprentice Michael, and eventually Howl.

      Despite his reputation for evil-doing, Howl is not one to turn out someone in need. When Sophie tells him that she is the new cleaning lady, he allows her to be that and she sets to the task (barring a few limits which Howl has placed upon her cleaning.) The ragtag team of people in this 'household' become close.

      Sophie learns about the ties that bind Howl and Calcifer. She learns much of the magic of the house and even comes to find out she has some magic herself. To no avail, she tries to help Howl elude the responsibility of finding the Prince and the Wizard of Suliman. She roots for Howl in his fight with the Witch of the Waste but she is still concerned over his womanizing and the inevitable heartbreak which will befall her sister Lettie.

      So much happens in so many interesting places, I would do a disservice to say that this is a summary of the book. Suffice it to say, that I recommend that you read this book. Howl's Moving Castleis a fun-filled adventure that will leave you breathless.

      Please note that the movie and the book are very different from each other. While we love Miyazaki movies, we thought the story in the book was better than the one told in the movie.

      This book receives four cookies from us!

      Discussion Topics - Howl's Moving Castle

        Why did Sophie think that Howl ate girls' hearts?
        Was Howl good or bad?
        Have you ever thought someone was bad and then when you learned more about them found that you were wrong?
        What 3 other places would you want your door to open to?
        What did you think of Sophie's response to being old? How would you have responded?
        What did you think of Michael?
        Why was Sophie afraid of Howl? Of the scarecrow? Of the dog?
        When did you realize what Calcifer really was?
        Why was Sophie nervous about breaking the contract?
        Throughout the book, did Sophie like Howl? Did Howl like Sophie?
        Why didn't Howl tell Sophie what he knew about her spell? About Miss Algorian?
        What would your wizard name be?
        For further discussion, you can find an interview with the author, Diana Wynne Jones, at the back of the book. Get Howl's Moving Castlefrom

        "Cookie" Recipe - Tunnel of Fudge Cake

          OK, it's not a cookie but this cake is so chocolate-y and thick and substantial that it could be.

          We chose Tunnel of Fudge Cake as our treat for Howl's Moving Castlebecause like Howl and his castle, it's dark and mysterious on the outside but sweet on the inside. We also skipped the glaze but you don't have to.

          From Cook's Country: Tunnel of Fudge Cake (episode: Super Fudgy Cake) - Serves 12 to 14.

          Don't use a cake tester or toothpick because it'll seem wet due to the fudgy center. Just take the cake from the oven when the sides begin to pull away from the pan and the surface of the cake springs back when pressed gently with your finger.


          3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder , plus extra for dusting pan
          1/2 cup boiling water
          2 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
          2 cups all-purpose flour
          2 cups pecans or walnuts, chopped fine
          2 cups confectioners' sugar
          1 teaspoon salt
          5 large eggs , room temperature
          1 tablespoon vanilla extract
          1 cup granulated sugar
          3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
          2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter , softened

          Chocolate Glaze
          3/4 cup heavy cream
          1/4 cup light corn syrup
          8 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped
          1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

          1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder. Pour boiling water over chocolate in medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Whisk cocoa, flour, nuts, confectioners' sugar, and salt in large bowl. Beat eggs and vanilla in large measuring cup.

          2. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. On low speed, add egg mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Add chocolate mixture and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in flour mixture until just combined, about 30 seconds.

          3. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth batter, and bake until edges are beginning to pull away from pan, about 45 minutes. Cool upright in pan on wire rack for 1 1/2 hours, then invert onto serving plate and cool completely, at least 2 hours.

          4. For the glaze: Cook cream, corn syrup, and chocolate in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Stir in vanilla and set aside until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Drizzle glaze over cake and let set for at least 10 minutes. Serve. (Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)