Spotlight: The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

This was another book I decided to read during Banned Books Week.  I began reading it yesterday and finished it up today which is why the review is up a day after the week ended.

Why Has This Book Been Challenged?

Children performing magic or witchcraft.


David Stanley’s mother has been dead for a year when his father remarries.  David’s been in charge of his younger brother (Blair) and sisters (Janie and Esther).  When his twelve-year-old stepsister, who claims to be a student of the occult, comes to live with the Stanley family, odd things begin to happen around the house.  David thinks his stepsister is behind it all but the last event leaves him wondering if a poltergeist really has come back to haunt the house.

What Did I Think of It?

This book is at least twenty years old but still reads well.  The parents are mostly absent but they are always there for family meals.  The father has a long commute to the university and ends up going out of town for three weeks.  The stepmother is an artist who uses one of the rooms as her studio.  It’s obvious the parents care for all of the children and that Amanda is acting out.  She’s unhappy that she needs to go to a new school, has a new family, is living in a new house and that her biological father is too busy for her. 

Usually the parental figures in young adult books are nonexistent or swept aside so it was a pleasant surprise to have two of them make several appearances throughout the book.  David is close to his father and really likes having Molly as a parent though it took a while for him to get used to the idea.  I think the book realistically deals with a child’s feelings about remarriage.

The “occult” Amanda studies is really a bunch of hocus pocus.  It’s an interesting contrast to Blair, the cherubic twin, who can talk to animals and ghosts but doesn’t say much to people.  This was an enjoyable and fast read.

The Stanley family and Amanda have also been featured in The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case, Blair’s Nightmare and Janie’s Private Eyes if you want to read about more of their adventures.


  1. I read that book for a book report.

    I thought it was amazing. Right when the cupid’s head fell from the book that’s when it gave me the creeps. I didn’t realize it was Amanda who was doing it until David caught him. Maybe because I am just 11..? but the book was like reading a good scary story

  2. I believe it was only challenged. The American Library Association ( would know for sure. Looking at some of their recent lists there haven’t been enough challenges (if any) to get it on the top 100 list.

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