347D: Cruel Soot Turns Good

Hello all. I’ve been racking my brain for years over this one and I need some help. I remember my first grade teacher reading this kids’ chapter book to us in increments during class in the mid-90s, but I can’t recall many of the details. It’s bugged me to death for years.

Here’s what I can remember: The protagonist is female, probably an older kid or teenager. The book is written in third person and in English. The setting was a fantasy pre-modern city or town. Could be Victorian-esque, but maybe earlier or later. The villain is a cruel, miserable guy named (or nicknamed) Soot who wears all black and is feared throughout the area. I think he drives some kind of carriage or wagon but I’m not sure. The story opens with a king taking his last breath and then dying. The story ends with Soot turning good and joining the heroes in some kind of magic they’ve learned, and the protagonist falls asleep listening to their incantations. I think said incantations involve groups of three unrelated words, and the very last one mentioned was “dictionary”. The most frequently suggested titles, Awful Auntie and Keys to the Kingdom, are not the ones. I know this isn’t much to go on, but anyone who manages to put this to rest will have my gratitude.

333J: Victorian Mansion Cross Sections

I’m looking for a children’s book I had back around 15-20 years ago. It was a large picture book of a Victorian mansion (or castle?). Each page was another cross-section of a wing of the mansion, and a brief description and clue of something specific to search for on that page before turning to the next. I remember one page involving a dance/ball, and another involving a pillow fight, and one involving a garden/outdoors. Each cross-section depicted multiple floors, and the top ones typically belonged to the wealthy family while the lower ones depicted the staff/maids/bulter’s quarters, etc. I believe the protagonist is a young female child, and I vaguely remember there being a pelican involved — not sure if that was a character or part of the title; perhaps a mascot who guides the girl through the book. The pictures were very artistic and detailed, somewhat sophisticated and very amusing, so likely a book for children over 8 years old.