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*Stealing Magic: A Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventure* by Marianne Malone, illustrated by Greg Call - middle grades book review
Also by Marianne Malone:

The Sixty-Eight Rooms

Also illustrated by Greg Call:

The Sixty-Eight Rooms

Stealing Magic: A Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventure
by Marianne Malone, illustrated by Greg Call
Ages 9-13 256 pages Random House January 2012 Hardcover    

Continuing the story of sixth-grade friends Ruthie and Jack, Stealing Magic is the second book of the Sixty-Eight Rooms adventure series.

In the first book, the children discover a magical key while on a school field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago while visiting the Thorne Rooms – 68 miniature replicas of historical rooms created by Narcissa Thorne in the 1930s. When Ruthie holds the key near the exhibit, she immediately begins to shrink right down to the scale of the rooms.

In this book, they discover that there are some things missing from the rooms. Apparently an art thief has found a way to shrink and explore the rooms just like Ruthie and Jack. The children are bound and determined to figure out the culprit, and they have a pretty good idea who it is – an adult they have trusted in the past.

Side stories about the time travel possible through some of the rooms continue in this second book. The children travel back to Paris in 1937, where they meet a young Jewish girl, and a slave girl in the American South.

Like the first book in the series, Stealing Magic is a delightful fantasy filled with mystery and adventure. Malone combines descriptive language with dialog, which is a pleasure to read. The plot is fast-moving, holding the reader’s interest.

It is rather predictable, but that is perfect for the target audience who is just learning skills of inference and deduction. Greg Call’s enticing color cover illustration and internal pencil drawings help the reader to imagine the characters and the unique setting and scale.

The main characters of Jack and Ruthie are fully developed, while the supporting characters are rather one-sided. The side-plots involving time travel and history show another side to Jack and Annie’s personalities; both children have a strong sense of wanting to do what is right and helping people in danger, but they do have to lie at times to accomplish their goals.

This is exactly the type of story that a younger child at a higher reading level needs to keep building their skills. There is nothing too scary or inappropriate. Both Sixty-Eight Rooms adventures are excellent choices for boys or girls who enjoy both fantasy and realistic fiction.
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  Kristine Wildner/2012 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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