cover image The Magician’s Apprentice

The Magician’s Apprentice

Kate Banks, illus. by Peter Sís. FSG/Foster, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-34716-1

Banks’s (This Baby) allegorical fable stands out in this genre for its understated tone and lack of pretension. Sixteen-year-old Baz, a realistic mix of fearful and brave, accepts an unknown visitor’s invitation to leave his village and become a weaver’s apprentice. However, the abusive weaving master to whom he is delivered trades Baz for a sword to a wandering magician, Tadis, who dispenses magic and wisdom with equal alacrity. “ ‘Intention does not come from the mind, though the mind thinks it does. Intention comes from here.’ Tadis pointed to his heart.” Traveling with Tadis and his cart of tricks, Baz embarks on a long physical and spiritual journey to find his true destiny. Set in an unnamed Middle Eastern land and filled with vivid descriptions of earthquakes and sandstorms, as well as physical discomforts and homesickness, the book gently traces Baz’s growing understanding of the universal truths Tadis imparts. Sís’s distinctive, diminutive line drawings appear throughout as spot illustrations, perfectly complementing the understated yet rich voice in which Baz’s story is told. Ages 10–14. (Aug.)