by A. H. Richardson, published 2015
“Many times we carry our magic within us, an inner magic that takes many forms, such as love, friendship, courage, and tolerance.”
Reading this fantasy children’s book, I found myself slowly, even against my wishes, being pulled into the story, wishing for the best outcome, and wanting to stay in the magical land. The character of Jorie, an orphaned almost-nine-year-old girl, won me over quickly; her little friend Rufus eventually grew on me, as we watched him transform. I’m not a big fan of fantasy, because often it takes so much work to keep track of all the odd names, places, words, etc. But in this lightly-written children’s book, there’s just enough to keep the story in a fantasy world, but not so much as to overwhelm you.
I think there are two very important things that make this children’s book stand out. One is that the message at the end is so crystal clear – there is nothing as important to the heroine as her friendship. Power has no allure to her whatsoever. The clean ending, where there’s no last minute grasping for power, felt so refreshing to me.
The other interesting part of this children’s book is that it is written for a young reader. It has simple language, the plot is not too complicated, and most importantly, the evil characters are not so terrifying that one is scared to read the book alone. I appreciate this very much. Personally, I found Harry Potter too dark, and yet there were nine-year-olds happily reading it. Whereas I think this children’s book is far more suitable an introduction to fantasy for nine- and ten-year-olds. I do think older readers (11 and up) will find it a little too simplistic, but that’s fine, they have other things to read.
A good story, like-able characters, a bit of drama, and a satisfying resolution all combine for a children’s book with an uplifting message about finding one’s own special powers and inner courage.