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Murder at Midnight

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Overview

A plot to overthrow King Claudio is brewing in the Kingdom of Pergamontio. Scholarly Mangus the magician -- along with his street-smart and faithful new servant boy, Fabrizio -- have been marked as easy scapegoats for the traitor lurking within the king's court. Together, these two unlikely partners must gather clues to solve the mystery and prove their innocence before the stroke of midnight. . . or face death!

Intricate plotting, surprise twists, and lively prose make for ...

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Murder at Midnight

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Overview

A plot to overthrow King Claudio is brewing in the Kingdom of Pergamontio. Scholarly Mangus the magician -- along with his street-smart and faithful new servant boy, Fabrizio -- have been marked as easy scapegoats for the traitor lurking within the king's court. Together, these two unlikely partners must gather clues to solve the mystery and prove their innocence before the stroke of midnight. . . or face death!

Intricate plotting, surprise twists, and lively prose make for another suspenseful page-turner that stands alone or sets the stage for MIDNIGHT MAGIC!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The king is in danger. Well-placed traitors in the royal court have vowed to overthrow good King Claudio, and their plan is close to fruition. Danger looms for the monarch and his kingdom, but also for Mangus, the scholarly magician, and his devoted servant boy Fabrizio, who the plotters have been marked as scapegoats. This unlikely pair know that they must prove their innocence before the stroke of midnight or face execution. And they know the clock is ticking.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Avi transports listeners to Renaissance Italy in this companion story (2009) to Midnight Magic (2009, both Scholastic). Fabrizio, the ten-year-old servant of Mangus the Magician, strives desperately to please his master and learn the art of magic. But when treasonous papers appear in Pergamontio calling for the overthrow of King Claudio, Mangus is arrested. The papers are exact duplicates of each other and everyone in the kingdom knows only the magic of the devil could create such a thing. With Mangus in prison, it is up to Fabrizio to discover the truth and free his master. Fabrizio befriends Maria whose parents have brought a printing press to Pergamontio and they race the clock to uncover the real traitor before Mangus is put to death. Jeff Woodman provides terrific narration, giving each character a distinct voice. Although the abrupt ending might be disappointing, most listeners will enjoy this slightly spooky stroll into the past.—Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK
Publishers Weekly
Readers are returned to the Renaissance city of Pergamontio in this funny, lightweight mystery, set before the events of Avi's Midnight Magic, with 10-year-old Fabrizio having just begun serving Mangus the Magician. When hundreds of neatly printed handbills proclaiming “The kingdom needs a strong ruler! Establish true authority! Do not fear a change!” mysteriously appear, the superstitious King Claudio and his pompous “Primo Magistrato” DeLaBina believe it's the devil's work (Claudio and DeLaBina have “been successful in keeping Pergamontio free of all modern ideas, technologies, and heresies”). Mangus is accused of creating the fliers with black magic, and is placed under arrest and threatened with death. But when DeLaBina is murdered, it's up to the Sancho Panza–like Fabrizio and his new friend, the printer's devil Maria, to discover which of Pergamontio's scheming nobles is responsible for all of the skullduggery. Combining action, silliness and enough step-by-step explanations to help readers figure out the mystery, this enjoyable historical tale should appeal to the author's many younger fans and send them off to read—or reread—Midnight Magic. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
Avi, that prolific and skilled writer, can put another notch to his laptop: this is his seventieth book! As always the author has done his homework, crafting believable, sympathetic characters in 1490 Italy. Fabrizio, formerly a homeless street orphan, is now a personal servant to Magnus the Magician and his compassionate wife, Mistress Sophia. Magnus is also kind, teaching Fabrizio to read and educating him in philosophy, but Fabrizio wants more. He wants to learn magic and thinks of it as real, not illusion. But these are terrible times for magicians; magic has been banned by the superstitious king Claudio. The times are even harder on the hapless Fabrizio. After a typical performance in the backroom of the Sign of the Crown Tavern, the servant and his master are swept along by a plot to assassinate the king. Who is behind the plot—Cosimo, heir to the throne, or Count Scarazoni, said to be the real power in the kingdom? Flyers encouraging the overthrow of King Claudio appear in the streets. Each is so exactly alike; authorities suspect magic and arrest Magnus the Magician. The real "magic" is the recent invention of the printing press. Fabrizio and Maria, whose family owns the press, take on the challenge of saving their respective families as well as the kingdom. Along the way they encounter life-threatening danger, ready-to-betray servants, crooked palace officials and as many plot twists as Fabrizio's town of Pergamontio's streets and alleyways. Avi is adept at creating characters that depend upon their own strengths to save the day. The well-intentioned Fabrizio is someone young readers will remember long after they finish this book. Reviewer: Judy Crowder
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—In the Renaissance kingdom of Pergamontio, Italy, young servant Fabrizio's master, a stage magician, is charged with plotting treason against the king and dealing with demons. Fabrizio knows he must help clear Mangus's name to avoid once again living on the streets and to convince the magician to take him on as an apprentice. The plot is thick, however, and Fabrizio bumbles along until he finally comes up with a plan worthy of a magician. Avi weaves in the introduction of the printing press, the belief in magic as an evil source of power, and the rarity of reading as a skill without ever making them seem like lessons. Fabrizio, because he lacks education, believes that magic is real, an understanding that gets both him and his master into more trouble. His bumbling makes it feel as though the story is pushing him along, rather than Fabrizio himself driving the narrative. Eventually, though, he learns enough about himself, and about the illusion of magic, to come through with glowing colors. An intelligent girl who is a "printer's devil" provides an excellent counterpoint to Fabrizio's worldview. The novel should appeal to reluctant readers, as the writing style is easy enough to follow despite the historical concepts.—Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Avi returns to Renaissance Pergamontio for another round of murder and political intrigue, set two years before the events of Midnight Magic (1999). Taking with a grain of salt the claims of his new master, stage magician Mangus, that there is no such thing as magic, ten-year-old ex-street orphan Fabrizio finds himself swept up in a murderous royal power struggle that results in them both being framed, thrown into prison and threatened with execution. On the way to an elaborate climactic trick set in a candle-lit, bone-strewn crypt, Fabrizio meets contending aristocrats with murky motives, a young "devil" (a printer's devil, as it turns out), a genial executioner and other colorful characters. The plot never takes a break, rushing from encounter to encounter in true audience-pleasing style; the intrigue unfolds naturally without bogging down the main event. The denouement is as contrived as can be, but readers will be glued to this suspenseful, headlong caper from first page to last. (Adventure. 10-12)
From the Publisher

PRAISE FOR MURDER AT MIDNIGHT:

"Readers will be glued to this suspenseful, headlong caper from first page to last."–Kirkus Reviews

"The suspense simmer[s] right through to the end."–Booklist

PRAISE FOR MIDNIGHT MAGIC:

*"With snappy dialogue, nonstop action and lavishly embroidered period backdrops, this will please Avi's fans and may well win over some new ones."–Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The pages fly with intrigue and action."–Horn Book

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545160902
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Format: CD
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Avi

Avi's work spans nearly every genre and has received nearly every major prize, including the Newbery Medal for CRISPIN: THE CROSS OF LEAD and Newbery Honors for NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH and THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE. Avi lives in Denver, Colorado. You can visit him online at www.avi-writer.com.

Biography

Born in Manhattan in 1937, Avi Wortis grew up in Brooklyn in a family of artists and writers. Despite his bright and inquisitive nature, he did poorly in school. After several academic failures, he was diagnosed with a writing impairment called dysgraphia which caused him to reverse letters and misspell words. The few writing and spelling skills he possessed he had gleaned from his favorite hobby, reading -- a pursuit enthusiastically encouraged in his household.

Following junior high school, Avi was assigned to a wonderful tutor whose taught him basic skills and encouraged in him a real desire to write. "Perhaps it was stubbornness," he recalled in an essay appearing on the Educational Paperback Association's website, "but from that time forward I wanted to write in some way, some form. It was the one thing everybody said I could not do."

Avi finally learned to write, and well! He attended Antioch University, graduated from the University of Wisconsin, and received a master's degree in library science from Columbia in 1964. He worked as a librarian for the New York Public Library's theater collection and for Trenton State College, and taught college courses in children's literature, while continuing to write -- mostly plays -- on the side. In the 1970s, with two sons of his own, he began to craft stories for children. "[My] two boys loved to hear stories," he recalled. "We played a game in which they would give me a subject ('a glass of water') and I would have to make up the story right then. Out of that game came my first children's book, Things That Sometimes Happen." A collection of "Very Short Stories for Little Listeners," Avi's winning debut received very positive reviews. "Sounding very much like the stories that children would make up themselves," raved Kirkus Reviews, "these are daffy and nonsensical, starting and ending in odd places and going sort of nowhere in the middle. The result, however, is inevitably a sly grin."

Avi has gone on to write dozens of books for kids of all ages. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1991) and Nothing but the Truth (1992) were named Newbery Honor Books, and in 2003, he won the prestigious Newbery Medal for his 14th-century adventure tale, Crispin: The Cross of Lead. His books range from mysteries and adventure stories to historical novels and coming-of-age tales; and although there is often a strong moral core to his work, he leavens his message with appealing warmth and humor. Perhaps his philosophy is summed up best in this quote from his author profile on Scholastic's website: "I want my readers to feel, to think, sometimes to laugh. But most of all I want them to enjoy a good read."

Good To Know

In a Q&A with his publisher, Avi named Robert Louis Stevenson as one of his greatest inspirations, noting that "he epitomizes a kind of storytelling that I dearly love and still read because it is true, it has validity, and beyond all, it is an adventure."

When he's not writing, Avi enjoys photography as one of his favorite hobbies.

Avi got his unique nickname from his twin sister, Emily..

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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:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Keeps you at the edge of your seat !

    This great tale is truely interesting and suspenseful. i loved it !

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by LadyJay for TeensReadToo.com

    Mangus the Magician is in serious trouble. A plot to overthrow the king has surfaced, and Mangus is the perfect scapegoat for a traitor lurking inside the castle walls.

    The whole city of Pergamontio is on edge, including poor Fabrizio, loyal servant to Mangus and his wife. Fabrizio foolishly believes that the magic Mangus creates is "real," but does not believe that his Master would try and kill the king.

    Mangus' real passion is philosophy and the betterment of the mind. These concepts escape Fabrizio, a simple street boy, who uses his wits to keep himself safe. Fabrizio, with the help of a fellow misfit, must bring the true conspirator to light and save Mangus from certain death.

    Readers are once again thrown into a story set within the confines of Renaissance Italy in MURDER AT MIDNIGHT. The story precedes the events that occur in Avi's novel MIDNIGHT MAGIC, which also features the young Fabrizio.

    While the story remains a mystery at heart, one cannot help but chuckle at some of the dialogue that takes place between Fabrizio and his Master. It is a fun story that moves quickly and is easy to read. Lovers of all things Avi will enjoy this light-hearted mystery.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012

    Megan

    Mungus the majican finds him self in grave danger,for he is being blamed fog making these papers that said dont fear a change anf it ment that some one wanted to dispos of the king,got later in the book you fing out who really made the papers....dela decides to blame mungus got making thr papers,he was ginven 3 instructions to do 1 collect all thr pappers that were spread bout the city 2 find out who really made that pappers 3 tell m who really made the papers.then u can be set free.well mungus's servent fabrizo thought that he vould al least do the first job so he can please his master but dela caought him ajd thought he was spreqding the papers round the city so he went to vourt sort of ajd was summond to death in less than 24 hours ajd fbriziomet the person who was gonna kill him but then messager came with a scroll for the excutioner but he could not read and fabrizio could a juet a little bit and he swore that he would tell the truth to the excutioner it said let the boy and then he sawbdeath but h lied to him qnd said that it said let thr boy be free so he got free got to see hi msterb and later in the book not to far ther will be murder at midnight..an amazing book and im only 10 years old and i read it and understood it so its not a hard book to read tounf 200 pages in book but a amazing book kept u womdering all the time what was gonna happen next!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!u neeed to read it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Book katy

    I have read this book for book club at the HMS Hudson Middle School i do not get it that much but it is ok i wounder what will happen next i thik it is ok it is not the best but i have to read it i wanted to read a diffrent book just by looking at yhe cover but like everye says you con not judge a book but now i kinda like it but i would not not read it and i read in and i kindlime it so you should rrad it yoy should fead l

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Revew

    This was a great bok and i highly recomend it. Mangus is convicted treason by making treasonos papers wich the king think by magic. Fabrizio is determined to save his master. The mystery is that de la bina was killed and no one knows who did it and who is trying to overthrow the casstle.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    from missprint DOT wordpress DOT com

    Trouble is brewing in Pergamontio, Italy. The year is 1490 and a deadly plot to overthrow the king is unfolding. Papers demanding change have appeared all over the kingdom all magically the same. Magic is outlawed in Pergamontio, so surely Mangus the Magician must have something to do with this dangerous plot.

    Except Mangus isn't that kind of magician, at least he says so. Mangus' new servant boy, Fabrizio, is certain his master really can do magic. But he's also certain Mangus would never commit treason.

    If Fabrizio can unravel the mystery and reveal the true traitor he might be able to clear his master's name. And if Fabrizio can do that, maybe he can finally prove his worth to Mangus and earn the right to remain a part of the Magician's household in Murder at Midnight (2009) by Avi.

    Murder at Midnight is the prequel to Avi's earlier novel Midnight Magic.

    Avi is a widely known and beloved writer. He writes in just about every genre and, throughout his career, has earned a kind of legendary status as an author. He doesn't disappoint in this book that blends a clever mystery with humor and witty language.

    This book is filled with amusing characters and clever language that is straightforward yet subtle enough to appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike. That said, the dynamic of Fabrizio as a servant--often genuflecting and apologizing to his betters--felt a little over the top, not in a bad way but just in an odd way.

    Fabrizio might not be the quickest hero at the beginning of the story, but what he lacks in reasoning he more than makes up for in loyalty and ingenuity. Murder at Midnight is a quick, fun read. The period and setting are a good backdrop to the story but won't distract any readers put off by historical settings. At the same time, without getting into specifics, the time period also plays a very key role in the story.

    Possible Pairings: The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen, We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C. Alexander London, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Hello

    Yeah just checking to see if you checked yet?

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2012

    Assassins creed

    How long does it take to play as connor in AC3?

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2012

    Best book ever!

    I don't read much which should tell you something since i read this! Avi has become my new favorite athor!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    A wonderful prequel!

    The author is planning on writing another addition to the series! Absolutely can't wait!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2013

    Ha

    Im just giving it 1 star

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    Wuz good. Liked it.

    Wassup people.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2012

    Reviewed by RochelleDai

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2012

    Ohhh Avi....

    My Sister says it sucks!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Yearning to Read Review

    I'm not impressed.
    I'm not even a bit excited about this book. After about 175 pages, I began skimming, hoping it would end well.
    I was quite disappointed.
    Avi has always been a wonderful author. My favorite of his is The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, but he has written others such as Poppy, Ragweed, and The End of the Beginning. However, it was the mastery and cleverness of Midnight Magic that made me want to read this book. Midnight Magic is about Mangus and Fabrizio, but can be read as a prequal, sequal, or stand-alone book next to Muder at Midnight. Midnight Magic was full of complicated mysteries, great twists and believable characters. Murder at Midnight held a mystery that can easily be explained, nothing to look forward to, and flat characters. I was surprised and bummed that it wasn't better, especially after such great experiences with Avi's works of art.
    But don't let this review stop you from reading Avi's other fantastic books. Enjoy them, relish them, and let them inspire you. Get caught up in the magic of his stories. I can only hope he hasn't lost his charm for the future...

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews

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