cover image The Magic Half

The Magic Half

Annie Barrows, . . Bloomsbury, $15.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-59990-132-9

Not only is 11-year-old Miri a middle child, but she's stuck between two sets of twins, neither of which will let Miri tag along as they explore the nooks and crannies of the family's new house. Good thing Miri has a wild imagination to keep her company and a powerful belief in magic, too. She needs both for this clever take on the through-the-looking-glass(es) adventure that Barrows (Ivy and Bean ) spins for her. “Magic is just a way of setting things right,” Miri learns after peering through an eyeglass she discovers in her room and then suddenly finding herself in the company of a girl who could almost be Miri's twin, except that the year is now 1935. Barrows limits the fantasy to the simple but effective time-travel device, using it sparingly as Miri bravely sets about making things right for her new friend—and eventually herself. Readers will savor the author's lively observations (thinking she is trapped in the past, Miri “consider[s] the fact that several of her favorite books would not be published for seventy more years. 'Great.... When I'm in my eighties I'll find out what happens to Harry Potter' ”), while the heroine's adaptability and independent thinking endow her with the appeal of a Ramona Quimby or a Clementine. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)