Magic Night

Isobelle Carmody, Author, Declan Lee, Illustrator , illus. by Declan Lee. Random $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-83918-4

On a moonlit night, in the chilly, black-and-white tiled interior of a suburban house, the family cat Hurricane senses danger: “Something strange has gotten into his house and things are beginning to change.” Although readers don't yet know it, a baby fairy has flown into the house, creating magical chaos. Dolls, toys, paintings—nearly everything in the fairy's trail comes alive. But it's an uneasy kind of aliveness the big-eyed creatures of these realistic pastels look bewitched. Hurricane, his features shown in a series of alarming close-ups, looks into the aquarium; two goldfish have sprouted tiny human limbs. “Hurricane does not like change!” Winged insects, freed from their collection boxes, take up lanterns and write with quill pens. Hurricane slowly relaxes and at last he perceives the truth: “This strange thing is a young thing. This strange thing is a lost thing! It belongs some otherwhere.” In Lee's final tableau, the tiny, goat-footed, dragonfly-winged fairy returns to its parents. While the implicit message is uplifting—fear and suspicion may blind us to magic and wonder—younger readers may be overpowered by the eeriness of the fearful imagery at the beginning. Australian author Carmody's (the Obernewtyn Chronicles) career as a fantasy writer may explain the book's pacing; it may find a warmer welcome among older picture book enthusiasts. Ages 4-6. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/27/2007
Release date: 08/01/2007
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 40 pages - 978-0-375-93918-1
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