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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*The Magic Half* by Annie Barrows- young readers book review
Also by Annie Barrows and/or Sophie Blackall:

Ivy + Bean (Book 1)

Ivy + Bean and the Ghost That Had to Go (Book 2)

Ivy + Bean Break the Fossil Record (Book 3)
The Magic Half
by Annie Barrows
Ages 9-12 224 pages Bloomsbury USA December 2007 Hardcover    

The new house is a little different. It has a pink-tinted mirror in the bathroom and inside breezes strong enough to ruffle hair. It has a closet with a ladder attached to the wall and a ten-sided bedroom. It is eleven-year-old Miri who notices the glass lens taped to the wall. When she holds the lens up to her eye, she is transported back to the year 1935. After a whirlpool sensation passes, Miri notices that she’s still in her new home - but now the bedroom wallpaper has pink roses on it, all her books are missing, and there is an old doll carriage standing in the center of the rug. Her surroundings are different, and so are the nearby voices.

The arguing voices she hears belong to a male and female, but they are definitely not anyone in her family. When she last saw her family, her twin brothers were occupied with thoughts of lost treasure that was rumored to be buried under the house; her mother was thinking of ways to ground her, and her twin sisters had just finished arguing about their doll.

Miri is a daydreamer who still likes to pretend. From time to time, she has thoughts of flying with fairies, or being a Wolf Princess, but what she is seeing and hearing now in this unfamiliarly decorated room is beyond her most fantastical dreams. Miri may have traveled back to 1935 because of a magical lens, but she was summoned there by people who needed her help. And not only do these people believe in magic; they are about to confirm that magic can exist for Miri, too.

Miri feels like the extra in her family. Her family is the “one” in the “one in eight million” family statistic, because Miri has a set of twin brothers and a set of twin sisters. She feels left out when her brothers have fun, and when her parents are busy, Miri is the one who has to babysit her little sisters. To make matters worse, her mother is blind to the fact that her brothers gang up on her and are often the instigators of fights. Miri’s family perspective changes, though, when she sees what life is like in 1935 for eleven-year-old Molly Gardner.

Miri may feel like a prisoner in her family, but Molly is treated like one in hers. Risking her life, Miri goes back in time to rescue Molly from the cruelty and danger that surrounds her life. Miri’s rescue plan involves Halloween props, her brother’s strange selection of music, and a second pair of magical lenses. Although initially shocked and confused that she was trapped in 1935 - and without any socks at that - Miri works hard while there to save Molly’s life and to correct a slip in time.

Young readers may sigh and wish they could find something similar in their house - something to make their world a more magical and amazing place. They may not have found that something yet, but there is this book. It could work until such a time.

Annie Barrows has a degree in Medieval History and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Before working as an author, Annie Barrows was an editor of “a couple hundred books.” Her first children’s books are about two best friends - Ivy and Bean. Her adult book, "Guernsey Literary and the Potato Peel Society," will be published in the summer of 2008. It was written by Barrows and her niece Mary Anne Shaffer.

Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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