Blue Heron

( 5 )


What is magic really for?

As Maggie approaches her thirteenth birthday, she wants to believe that some kind of magic can stop the changes all around her. Her visit with her father and his new family at a lakeside cabin makes her wonder. Will he still love her as much, now that he has a new family, or will he love her baby half-sister more? Her father seems troubled and withdrawn and, while he insists nothing is wrong, she worries.

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What is magic really for?

As Maggie approaches her thirteenth birthday, she wants to believe that some kind of magic can stop the changes all around her. Her visit with her father and his new family at a lakeside cabin makes her wonder. Will he still love her as much, now that he has a new family, or will he love her baby half-sister more? Her father seems troubled and withdrawn and, while he insists nothing is wrong, she worries.

Alone with her own secret thoughts, Maggie finds comfort in the beautiful blue heron she visits at the lake every morning. With each visit, she grows more attached to the bird, and she becomes aware that someone else is watching, too — someone who's putting the bird in great danger. Through her determination to protect the bird, Maggie begins to understand the magic of change in her own life, and in the constantly changing world around her.

While spending the month of August on the Massachusetts shore with her father, stepmother, and their new baby, almost thirteen-year-old Maggie finds beauty in and draws strength from a great blue heron, even as the family around her unravels.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-- Almost-13-year-old Maggie has a loving mother, a terrific young stepmother, and a father whose delight in seeing her each summer is apparent. This year, there's an infant half-sister for Maggie to meet. The status quo is perfect. But even before her arrival at the rented marsh-side cottage, the girl senses that something isn't right. Her father's anger is barely under control; the relationship between him and his wife is rapidly deteriorating; and Maggie is too young to understand fully the troubles that are destroying them. When she learns that her father's health is poor, and he confesses that he has lost his job and hasn't told his wife, she feels mired in a marsh of complex adult emotions. As she tries to sort things out, she sees a blue heron. It becomes a symbol in her life, especially when she discovers that someone is trying to kill it with a bow and arrow. This is a complex novel, and it is needlessly complicated by symbolism. An overburdened story line about the heron's would-be killer, a lonely boy, is never fully explored and serves to muddle rather than enrich and enhance. The important thread, that of a happy family coming apart because of events seemingly beyond their control--depression, poor health, unemployment--is poignant enough without further intricacies. --Marjorie Lewis, Scarsdale Junior High School, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380720439
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 975,421
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 590L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.34 (w) x 5.06 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author


Avi is the author of more than sixty books, including Crispin: The Cross of Lead, a Newbery Medal winner, and Crispin: At the Edge of the World. His other acclaimed titles include The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth, both Newbery Honor Books, and most recently The Seer of Shadows. He lives with his family in Colorado.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Avi Wortis (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 23, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

What -- Margaret Lavchek asked herself -- was magic really for? As far as she was concerned, people did not understand magic properly. Magic was not to change things. No, magic was a way of keeping things the way they were. So as Maggie -- the name she liked people to use -- put aside Ancient Tales of Magic, she made the wish that nothing about her father had changed.

Considering Maggie's age -- she was almost thirteen -- she was both tall and strong. That, and her frank brown eyes, plus a willing smile, added to her outwardly assured manner. But as the plane moved into its steady descent, it was with feelings of nervousness and a- frowning face that Maggie looked out the porthole. She was trying to compare what she saw below with the map her father had sent her.

Was that the village of Westport she was seeing? If it was Westport, she should be over the Westport River with its two branches meeting like the letter Y and flowing into the sea. Sure enough, she could make it out. That made her certain she was looking right down at Sawdy Pond, where her father and his wife had taken a cottage for the month of August.

Between visits -- Christmas and August -- Maggie spoke to her dad at least twice a week. And she got along with Joanna, his wife of two years. Summer visits with him, now with them -- they lived in Boston -- had always been a frenzy of doing-things, going places, movies, museums, concerts, one long party.

But below, in that same lakeside cottage, was her new half sister, Linda, four months old. Maggie was not sure how she felt about Linda, or how Linda's coming into the family was goingto change things. Maggie scolded herself for being so apprehensive. But then, since leaving her home in Seattle, Washington, that morning, she had traveled for seven hours. She was tired and wanted to be there.

From her jeans pocket Maggie pulled out an eggshaped, multisided glass crystal, her mother's early birthday gift. She dangled it from its string so it would throw flashing bars of rainbow colors in all directions. It made Maggie smile to remember what her mother had called it: "Pocket magic."

The voice of the captain filled the cabin: "Flight attendants please prepare for landing."

The plane slid further toward the coast, then over the ocean itself That morning Maggie had looked -down on the Pacific. Here was the Atlantic. Coast to coast in one day. The realization gave her goose bumps.

Stuffing the crystal back into her pocket, Maggie gazed at the sea and, as always, tried to think in magical ways. Things were better that way. So she decided the water was like a roughened silver plate, while the speedboat trailing a feathery white wake was the fingertip of Neptune, the Roman sea god, making his long, drawnout signature.

Right across from where Maggie sat, up by the door, the flight attendant named Karen -- she had told Maggie to call her that -- buckled herself tightly into a special seat and flashed a smile.

"Be there soon, hon," Karen said.

Maggie, wishing the woman would not always say "honey," or "hon," nonetheless returned the smile before looking out the window again. Now they were swinging sharply and the sound of the airplane changed, becoming loud. There was a sudden bump. Maggie closed her eyes: "I'm on a magic carpet," she told herself. "The bumps are the snatching hands of goblins trying to shake me loose." Only when she felt a tap on her knee did she open her eyes.

"The wheels lowering," Karen informed her. "Now remember, honey, we'll wait until everyone is out before I take you to Dad. It'll be your dad who'll be meeting you, right?"

Maggie nodded.

"When did you see him last?"


"Oh, you must miss him so."

"I do."

For a moment Maggie wanted to tell Karen how nervous she was.

"What's he do?"

"Business," Maggie said vaguely. It was something about insurance. She was not sure.

"Oh, you're going to have such a good time," Karen said.

Karen's words were the same her mother had used. Why, Maggie wondered, did people say things like that? Did it mean that if she had a rotten time it would be her fault? All the same she felt obliged to reply, "I know."

Then quickly she added, "My father rented a log cabin cottage on a pond, well, lake actually, for August. I've never been there, but he said it's on the water and cool."

"Lucky you. Can you swim?"

"Yes. I'll be thirteen in three weeks."

"A teenager!"

Maggie blushed and turned away, asking herself why she'd wanted to tell her age. Instead of answering her question, she peered down into people's backyards. Someone was getting a suntan. Kids were splashing in a turquoise-colored pool.

Suddenly, before she could prepare herself, the runway was close and getting closer. It must have been this way, Maggie told herself, when Dorothy landed in Oz. But the next moment the plane landed with hardly a bump.

Karen spoke into the phone by her seat, filling the cabin with her voice. "Welcome to Providence, Rhode Island. The local time is five-o-five, Eastern standard time. The temperature is ninety-six."

Some of the people in the cabin groaned.

Karen winked at Maggie. "Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened until the captain has brought the plane to a complete stop.

"On behalf of Captain Wooten and your entire Chicago-based flight crew, we want to thank you for flying United Airlines and hope to see you all real soon."

Karen hung up the phone and leaned out of her seat toward Maggie.

"Just a few minutes, hon."

Suddenly Maggie missed her mom. Her home. Her friends. Maybe Joanna would not want her around now that she had a baby of her own...

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2002


    I read this book for summer reading before 8th grade. I picked this book out of many because it was shorter and seemed interesting. I do not really like Avi's way of writing and this book was totally boring and unrealistic. Avi could've made this book a little better so young readers like myself could enjoy it. How could this story be about the transformation between childhood and growing up when it is all about a heron? Plus, no human would go into someone's house making accusations about a bird and then go look around and make friends with the person. I give this book 2 stars and hope that Avi's other books are much better for the youth he writes them for.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2002

    Makes your eyes SPARKLE and your smile SPREAD!

    Blue Heron is a well written book. It is filled with suspension and magic! It will make your heart feel like GOLD!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2001

    Great Book!!!!

    This book was great because it was so suspenseful and exciting, although it was very complicated.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2000


    This was an awesome book. It almost made me cry. It was so touching. Blue Heron was one of the best books I have ever read. Please read it!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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