Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Magic Nation Thing

Well, she's done it again. Zilpha Keatley Snyder has written another magical novel for the 9-13 set. I've been a fan ever since I read The Egypt Game as a child. I counted The Egypt Game as one of my most favorite novels along with The Phantom Tollbooth, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles.

Magic Nation Thing tells the tale of Abby O'Malley, a twelve-year-old girl from San Francisco. Abby's parents are recently divorced and her mom starts a Detective Agency as a means of employment. That's when the trouble begins.

Abby's talent is not new. She first discovered it in preschool, but learned to discount it as her "magic nation" thing. One of her mom's cases, however, brings her powers back to life. A young girl has disappeared and Dorcas O'Malley is hired to investigate. Amongst the evidence is a locket, a locket Abby can't resist picking up. When she holds the locket, it becomes warm and Abby sees a vision--a vision of the young girl at Disneyland. Case closed, but Abby's life becomes more difficult. Her best friend, Paige, is interested in using Abby's talents for sometimes frivolous purposes. And, Abby tries to prevent her mother from finding out that her talent is working, as Dorcas is interested in a familial history of magic.

Snyder's writing is simply magical. Her sentences are snappy, clear, and sharp. Abby O'Malley is a wonderfully real heroine and you're squarely in her corner from the start. I have one small quibble with the novel, though, and that is I really didn't like Paige, Abby's best friend, and I couldn't see how Abby liked her. But I guess that is characteristic of friendships in general during the middle grade years. (If anyone else has read this novel, please let me know what you think about Abby and Paige's friendship.)

A highly recommended read for the 8-14 reader.