cover image The Snow Spider

The Snow Spider

Jenny Nimmo, . . Scholastic/Orchard, $9.99 (146pp) ISBN 978-0-439-84675-2

Nimmo (the Charlie Bone novels) launches the Magician Trilogy with this enchanting tale, first released in England in 1986. On his ninth birthday, Gwyn's delightfully eccentric grandmother gives him five gifts: a piece of seaweed, a tin whistle, a metal brooch, a small, broken horse and the yellow scarf that his older sister had been wearing the day she mysteriously disappeared four years earlier. His grandmother instructs him to "give them to the wind" to discover if he is a magician, like his ancestors. The boy first releases the brooch, hoping that the wind will bring him something "to fill the emptiness" that descended on his home when his sister vanished. The brooch turns into a glowing white spider, who weaves intricate webs. One of the webs contains the image of a girl who strongly resembles his sister—except she is "fragile and so silver-pale that she might have been made of gossamer." When the girl in the web temporarily materializes, she brings a peace to Gwyn's family that has long been missing. Nimmo demonstrates how unique gifts can set a child apart; Gwyn's magic causes a rift between him and his best friend and brings the class bully's wrath upon him. Swiftly paced and cleverly plotted, Nimmo's novel fluidly fuses fantasy, suspense and drama. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)