cover image The Magic Hat of Mortimer Wintergreen

The Magic Hat of Mortimer Wintergreen

Myron Levoy. HarperCollins Publishers, $11.95 (211pp) ISBN 978-0-06-023841-4

This is a lark of an adventure story, set in the 1890s, complete with dastardly villains, a con artist with a heart of gold, daring escapes, balloon rides and an appealing pair of orphaned children. Spoofing many of the conventions of the historical novel, Levoy provides a merry and suspenseful chase, as the orphans run away from evil Aunt Vootch, join ranks with a would-be magician and travel from South Dakota to New York City. The magician's hat, functioning independently of its owner, Mortimer Q. Wintergreen, serves the cause of justice in an original wayit spews taffy neck-high over two robbers. Exaggerations of the genre abound, and readers should be able to distinguish as such the evil aunt's abuse of the children (e.g., chaining them to a post in the pigpen). The abrupt ending and unanswered questions (whatever happened to Aunt Vootch?) suggest a sequel, which will be most welcome. Ages 8-12. (March)