cover image Amazing Felix

Amazing Felix

Emily Arnold McCully. Putnam Publishing Group, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22428-7

Caldecott winner McCully ( Mirette on the High Wire ) captures the elegance of the 1920s with sprightly prose and effervescent illustrations. Felix's famous pianist father departs for a world tour, leaving behind the instructions ``You must practice.'' Sister Fanny throws herself into a Bach fugue while Felix doubts his talents and feels ``a surge of joy--and a clap of dread!'' at the thought of seeing his father again. Aboard a fancy ocean liner, however, he discovers a new pastime and hopes to impress his father with a magic trick or two. As it happens, he saves Fanny from the cold clutches of a castle tower and wins hearts with his sure-handed magic performance. The story is weakened by a single ill-defined but pivotal moment, yet is otherwise well paced and filled with snatches of warm humor and insight. With McCully's subtle but expert use of color, water shimmers aqua, ladies' gowns rustle. Finely tuned for the most part, it is unfortunate that the female characters are less than inspiring. Mother barely features and Fanny gets nothing for all her practice and perseverance. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)