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Posted February 19, 2011
Have you ever thought about wanting to do something but were afraid that others might make fun of you because you weren't very good at it? Jake Daniels is a ten year old boy who lives in Staten Island, NY, with his parents and narrates the story. He likes baseball, but when his father, who has all kinds of baseball trophies from when he was a kid, takes him to Little League tryouts, he sees that other kids his same age are much bigger and stronger than he is, and he gets so scared that he throws up. He's sure that his schoolmates Josh and Alex are laughing at the mistakes that he makes.
Back at home, in the apartment building where the Daniels family lives, their eighty-three-year-old neighbor Mr. Flynn is a magician, and after telling him all about the tryout disaster Jake wants to learn some magic tricks. So Mr. Flynn lets him borrow an old magic book, and Jake begins studying. Then Mr. Flynn has a stroke and has to go to a rehab center. They decide to do a magic act together for the center's talent show where Mr. Flynn will be the announcer and Jake will do the tricks. Mr. Flynn tells Jake to make sure that he rereads chapter two in the magic book. What will Jake learn from the book that he can apply to baseball too?
This middle-school grade novel uses a fictional plot to show how kids can develop self-confidence through hard work and determination. There are many things to like about it. Instead of having a bunch of children off to themselves, it shows a young person in whose life adults play an important role. There is the inter-generational relationship of Jake with Mr. Flynn, showing how both young and old can have mutual interests, and through that Jake, who already loves his parents, learns to respect and trust them even more. Also, the reader will discover that life can sometime takes a surprising turn and that a positive attitude and a sense of humor can prepare us for the unexpected. I believe that most pre-teens will find Chapter Two both interesting and relevant.