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As I finished week one of my classes, I have firmly decided that my middle grade curriculum classes will be my favorite. But then again, when the homework for the weekend is to create a literacy map and pick out a book to give a book talk on, how could one think those classes aren’t going to be fun?

Since I also love to get a head start on things, I thought I would feature the book I decided to talk about so I could also share it with you.

If this book had been around when I was a kid, it definitely would have been something I picked up. I mean, I was obsessed with magic, and in fact, I sort of wanted to be Harry Houdini too…or at least have him for a cool Uncle.

Author: Laura Quimby |
Genre: magical fantasy, adventure, ghost story
Pages: 352

Jack Carr is the kind of kid who has been shuffled from one foster home to the next. Even though his families have changed constantly, he’s had one constant in his life–magic–and a hero to look up too, Harry Houdini. When Jack is placed with the Professor, he finally feels like he’s at home, that is until he discovers the secret his guardian his hiding.

Because of a very old soul-giving promise, Jack is forced to go with the terrible Mussini, an undead magician, and live in the Forest of the Dead, a sort of purgatory between life and the afterlife. It’s there that Jack finds kids like himself all forced to perform at Mussini’s traveling magic show. For fear of dying and being stuck in the Forest, Jack enlists his new friends, and a little bit of magic, to perform a perfect Houdini escape, and to find his way back home.

5 reasons why this book is marvelous!

  1. It’s got magic in it. Houdini magic. Enough said.
  2. I absolutely love the world that Quimby creates. It’s magical, it’s ghostly, it’s the world of a carnival. Three great things wrapped up in one.
  3. Jack is a foster care kid which I think isn’t touched on enough in books, and Quimby features this aspect in a delicate, yet deeply touching way.
  4. This book is a great way to introduce kids to Houdini and his historical roots. Non-fiction slipped in through fiction = great teaching tool.
  5. Did I mention it’s got magic in it??? And ghosts???

I have no idea if there is going to be a sequel or series to this novel (I don’t think there is) but one can only hope.  This is definitely a great book for boys if you have a non-reader on your hands, but don’t let it slip away from girls because I think they will enjoy it too!

Tune in next week for some more Marvelous Middle Grade fun, and also check out my review of Summer of the Gypsy Moths I posted this weekend. It’s another middle grade novel you DO NOT want to miss out on.
Hopeful Reading and have a Marvelous Monday!