Miri is stuck in the middle between twin brothers and twin sisters, and feels totally alone, especially when they move to a big old house in the middle of the country. But when she finds a mysterious piece of glass in her room, she looks through it and finds herself transported to 1935, where she meets a girl just her age named Molly, who begs Miri to save her. Now Miri’s got to figure out how to get both of them back to the present – and it might just be a matter of life and death.
This is so cute! Right from the cover on down, everything about it is adorable. Miri is a likable protagonist in the Imaginative Loner mode, and Molly is a little spitfire (and feisty orphans or semi-orphans from the 30s are just about my favorite thing ever). I also love a good time travel plot handled well, and The Magic Half is definitely that; watching the girls set up the necessary components to make sure that in 75 years Miri is able to set the plot in motion was a delight. Plus I can’t really fault a book that’s all about two little girls figuring out magic, defeating a bad guy, and becoming friends.
I also thought a side aspect of the book was done really well: the sibling rivalry. Since we started this blog I’ve run across quite a few books where the siblings are viciously nasty to each other, actively wishing for the other to experience physical agony and so on. Like, ten-year-old kids, wishing for this. I find that more than a little disturbing. This book has siblings who tease, annoy, exclude, and fight with each other – boy do they ever – but they still come off as a believable family of non-sociopaths who love each other. Even when Miri whacks her brother over the head with a shovel, it’s clearly in the heat of the moment, and she’s terrified that she’s hurt him. Take note, children’s authors: this is how you write believably antagonistic siblings who don’t come off like future serial killers!
Anyway, the book was basically a big pile of charm and delighted me all the way through, so: four and a half cupcakes.