fiction favorites…The Magician’s Boy

The Magician’s Boy, by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Serena Riglietti

There was once a Boy who worked for a Magician.  Every day he polished the Magician’s magic wands and the gold stars and moons on his great blue robe.  He weeded the garden where the magic herbs grew, and crushed their seeds into powder for the Magician’s spells.  He worked very hard indeed.  But he wasn’t happy.
More than anything in the world, the Boy wanted to learn magic — but the Magician would not teach him.
The Boy fed the six white rabbits that lived in a hutch in the garden, but he was always startled when he saw the Magician pull one of them out of somebody’s hat…
“Master,” he begged, “teach  me!  Teach me magic!”
But the Magician always said, “Not yet, Boy.  Not till the time is right.  Not yet.”

One day, a grand mishap occurs during a performance:   the Saint George puppet has gone missing from their marionette show.  And faster than you can say alakazam, the Magician sends the Boy whirling into the Land of Story to search for George.

Once there, the Boy encounters an entire cast of familiar folk — the Old Woman who lived in a shoe, Pinocchio, Jack and his Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and many others.  Accompanied by a walking, talking Signpost, the Boy searches here, there, and everywhere for George, doing a fair bit of quick thinking and good deed-ing along the way. When he finally encounters the Dragon itself, and Saint George is still nowhere to be found, it is up to the Boy to pull off the ultimate rescue of all his Storyland friends.  And his bravery wins him more than he bargains for.

Susan Cooper’s story is a clever, lighthearted fantasy, just right for young elementary age children who know these stories backwards and forwards and will enjoy seeing the characters pop up in this setting-with-a-twist.  Never dark.  Just a lot of fun, with great pacing, nice bits of dialogue, and charming development of these nursery characters.  It reminds me a bit of My Father’s Dragon as far as its length, reading level, and wide appeal.  Great choice for a read-aloud, or for a young I-can-read-chapter-books-now reader, from an award-winning author.

Here’s the link on Amazon:  The Magician’s Boy