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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Magic By The Book

Anne, Emily, and Will check out a very unusual book from the public library one summer day. It is an old worn copy, a "small, shabby volume lying at the bottom of the wicker basket. Its color was indistinguishable in the deepening twilight, and the faded gilt letterin on its spine was illegible." So begins Magic By the Book, a story that is actually three stories. The children don't remember choosing it on their visit to the library. When Anne and Emily open the volume, they find the story they are reading is just what they have been doing, the description of the setting is right where they are sitting... a mist gathers, just as they are reading about it, and they are transported into a story, a story that is just unfolding.

There are three tales in Magic By the Book written by Nina Bernstein. The first is a Robin Hood tale, involving Anne and Emily. The second story is Will's. It is a a tale of a hero (Will) who is on a quest, having been recruited by Gnomblins to save their world - Jardinia. Will is at first a reluctant hero, but soon takes to his task, for he is no coward, "his curiosity had always been stronger than his fear".

The final tale involves all three children and a setting right out of a book Anne chose to read - War and Peace. This is the final adventure. In this tale there is a dark character who is trying to get the "book" the children have been adventuring in for his own evil ends. The children are chased by wolves and caught in a snowstorm - all during an August garden party given by their parents.

It all sounds fantastic, and it is. Such an imaginative tale, make that three tales, that take place over a summer. The date due in the book is "Not Due Yet" until the end when, after the children's final adventure it now says "Date Due: Today". The library books are packed and all returned, for summer is almost over and school is about to begin.

If you are a fantasy fan, this is a true "fall into the book" fantasy, for that is exactly what the characters Anne, Emily, and Will do. Very fast paced, Magic By the Book would also be a fun family read aloud.


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