Review of The Time of Green Magic

The Time of Green Magic
by Hilary McKay
Intermediate, Middle School    McElderry    225 pp.    g
7/20    978-1-5344-6276-2    $17.99

Everything changes for eleven-year-old North Londoner Abigail when her widower father marries Polly, mother of Max and Louis, and her beloved Granny Grace returns to Jamaica. Feeling both isolated and crowded at the same time in this new life, Abi finds respite in books and in the ethereal ivy-covered house where the newly configured family decides to move. Though not a practical choice, the house has “a lantern straight out of Narnia” by the door, and the storybook details prove irresistible. “Inside, the air smelt of long ago. The stairs were the sort you fly down in dreams. The colored glass in the hall windows seemed full of accumulated sunlight.” Disturbingly, however, when Abi becomes deeply absorbed in a book, remnants of the story she is reading materialize inside the house — a shell, a leaf, pages damp with saltwater. As each chapter focuses on the internal concerns of one of the three now-siblings, it becomes clear that all the children are struggling to find their place in their new circumstances. When Louis, the youngest, unknowingly conjures up a creature that may threaten his safety, Abi and Max must unite to get the magic back under control. Throughout this deftly told story, McKay (the Casson Family series, beginning with Saffy’s Angel, rev. 7/02; Love to Everyone, rev. 11/18) creates a captivating world to fall into, full of honesty and humor. The warm but complicated relationships form a comforting space for readers to explore the power one can find in home, family, and books — especially this one.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Roach
Julie Roach

Julie Roach, chair of the 2020 Caldecott Committee, manages youth services at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. She also teaches children’s literature at Simmons University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and at Lesley University.

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