by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, published 1966
“As with all good magic, there is a bit of skill involved, so proceed with caution, particularly right at first. And above all, use discretion. Remember, there must be absolutely no public notice.”
Who would imagine that doing good deeds, without really planning them, could have terrific results? This imaginative children’s book has a subtle way of bring the interconnectedness of life to children, without ever saying so. Rather, the book, on the surface, is just about a clumsy boy, who gets a gift of magic. And that is the genius of the author…nothing is as simple as it really appears.
I did feel that it took a little bit too long for the magic element to appear in the story, other than the fact that the boy is named after Harry Houdini. However, it is true that with a more solid setting, then the final outcomes make more sense.
This is a great book for boys. It’s really all about boys, in fact, and certainly looks at their issues of being athletically competent as a standard for success. This children’s book is slightly old-fashioned, perhaps because it was written in 1966, so it has no superheroes and fighting going on. But it is a great read for both it’s magic and it’s daily life significance. Again, a book that is very well-aligned with Waldorf education.
This book may be hard to find; I got it at the library, and there are used copies on-line. And although I indicate it is for 9-12, I think an 8-year-old could easily appreciate it, and a 12-year-old might find it too tame. It’s also set in San Francisco, so it’s a great book for kids growing up in that city.