cover image The Incredible Magic of Being

The Incredible Magic of Being

Kathryn Erskine. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-338-14851-0

Inquisitive and kept sheltered, nine-year-old Julian is drawn to his elderly new neighbor, Mr. X., after he moves to Maine with his mother, stepmother, and older sister to open a bed-and-breakfast. As Julian chips away at Mr. X’s curmudgeonly exterior, the two strike a bargain: if Julian faces his fear of swimming, Mr. X will adopt a dog. Julian’s self-proclaimed “uni-sense,” an extrasensory connection to the universe and those around him, and belief that he’ll become part of the star Sirius after his death highlight his singular way of looking at the world. Julian is wise, thoughtful, and confident in his knowledge of human nature and science (especially astronomy), which he shares with readers in “FART!” sidebars (standing for “facts and random thoughts”). Julian is aware that his enthusiasms are not always well received (“People think I’m weird, which I’m not, I just think about stuff a lot”), but readers will fall for his candidness. His relationships with Mr. X and his tempestuous older sister, Pookie, are sensitively depicted, showcasing the growing understanding among these memorable characters. Ages 8–12. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Oct.)