The Magic Half

By Annie Barrows [LibraryThingGoodreads]

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.

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    3 Comments »

    1. carolyn said,

      November 9, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

      Intriguing! I was surprised you called this “cute,” though. I guess it takes place in the US? I hear “time travel to 1935″, and I think of “The Devil’s Arithmetic”, so I kind of expected a heavy theme. Any darkness in this book, or will I find it cloying? (you know me)

      Nice to hear about sibling rivalry done well, though. Have you read Sharon Creech’s “Chasing Redbird”? The protagonist has like 5 or 6 siblings, and she really feels excluded and even antagonistic with some of them, but they’re still family. Also quite realistic. (and one of my fave books ever!)

    2. Jess said,

      November 10, 2010 @ 7:23 am

      There’s a slight thread of darkness, just because the villain is really pretty threatening, but it’s for, like, nine year olds, so it’s pretty light otherwise. It’s so short, though, that even if you do find it cloying you’ll be done with it in like two hours.

      I have not! It was in my “To Read” pile for months before you moved out and took it with you, though. :P

    3. Active Voice » Agent Q, or the Smell of Danger!: A Pals in Peril Tale said,

      November 23, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

      [...] Recent Comments Marilyn on The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives, The Unusual Suspects, The Problem Child, and Once Upon a Crime#38: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner | Rebecca Allen on The ThiefHannah on The ThiefHannah on MockingjayJess on The Magic Half [...]

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