Saturday, July 6, 2013

Summer Reading Assignment #2: Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

July 6th, 2013
  I hope everyone had a good,safe 4th of July. It rained here so we didn't do our traditional sparklers and smoky snakes after my husband got home from work. In fact, it has rained nearly every day for at least a week and a half. Which is another good time for summer reading! Being stuck inside in the summer makes for perfect reading opportunities!
  I am way behind on a couple of posts I have had planned,but it has been a busy couple of weeks. I will continue with my posts on great summer books to share with your kids. My next suggestion is Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I read several of her books when I was a kid, but this one, suggested to me by my sister,who also read it, has got to be my all time favourite.

  These days, as I have found from reading her books to my kids, Miss Snyder's books seem like there is going to be magic involved, but there usually turns out to be a reasonable explanation for things in the end. Black and Blue Magic on the other hand, has REAL magic in it. I have always been the type who longs to fall down a rabbit hole into wonderland, or drive through a toy tollbooth and enter another world. I love that this book has magical happenings, with no chance to explain it away. It's pure imagination (No Wonka pun intended.),and I think it's good for kids to pretend and imagine.
  Black and Blue Magic takes place over summer vacation and concerns 12 year old Harry Houdini Marco, a clutzy kid whose widowed mother runs a boarding house. Harry's late stage magician father wanted him to be a magician too, and was encouraged by the fortune they were given by an old fortune teller when Harry was a baby: that  Harry would have great magic. Harry doesn't think he's meant for magic of any kind, until an act of kindness introduces him to a strange little man named Tarzak Mazeek. Mr. Mazeek comes to stay at the boarding house and when he leaves he gives Harry a magical gift which will change Harry's life, and through Harry, the lives of many other people.
  Harry's story is funny and magical, mysterious, and touching. There's nothing terribly scary, but there are exciting moments.The book was originally published in 1966, but I think it's still in print. If not, it can be found online, and in second hand book stores. I can't find an official age recommendation for this book, but most of the people reviewing it online seem to have first read it in fourth grade. I would say if you are reading it to your child, depending on their attention span and interests you could read it earlier. Eight to 12 would be a good age range. My children are years apart, (22, 18, and 13.) so I have reread the book at least twice over the years to cover all of them. They all liked it, although maybe not as much as I did! I highly recommend Black and Blue Magic. Some of my other favourite books by Zilpha Keatly Snyder  are The Velvet Room (very hard to find, but worth it. Both my girls loved it.), and The Egypt Game. Snuggle down on a rainy summer day (or night) with your kids and become friends with Harry.I think you'll all enjoy it. 

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