Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pip, a salamander afraid of the dark, sets out in search of Old Abra the wizard, hoping he will help him to be brave. His travels take him through a pitch-dark forest, ``black as shadows under a rock,'' into a tunnel ``as black as night with my eyes closed'' and over the hills when night falls, ``black as river mud.'' By the time he finds Old Abra, he has no need of the wizard's counsel, for without realizing it he has already confronted and conquered his fear. Walsh (Mouse Paint; Hop, Jump) uses boldly colored, paint-spattered cutouts that add charm and child appeal to this obvious but still helpful tale: young noctiphobes will enjoy perceiving what is happening before Pip does, and they may find a useful lesson in the notion that action can be the best antidote to fear. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Walsh conjures up a story that presents complicated ideas with a simplicity that will charm young children. Pip, a questing salamander, searches for Old Abra, the wizard, to find magic to overcome his fear of darkness. Pip's journey through the woods "as black as shadows under a rock," a tunnel "as black as night with eyes closed" and into the night "as black as river mud" leads Pip to the turtle wizard who reminds him of the magic he's already discovered for himself. This is a calming book for preschoolers who fear the dark and question their own powers of mastery. The brilliance of Walsh's palette and the joy portrayed by her characters bring a lightheartedness and enchantment to the reader.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Pip, a salamander, is afraid of the dark. He seeks the advice of Old Abra, a wizard, traveling through a forest ``black as shadows under a rock,'' into a tunnel ``black as night,'' and across the nighttime hills ``as black as river mud.'' When he finally catches up with Old Abra, the wise tortoise helps Pip realize that he already has the magic needed to brave the dark, with a little extra to spare. Filled with new confidence, the little lizard takes his leftover magic and finds a quiet place to rest. Walsh's cut-paper collage illustrations are bold and bright. Splatters of paint and a variety of textured papers add detail and dimension to the pictures. The animals are clearly and dramatically depicted: jumping frogs, with their graceful arms outstretched, dance across the page; an orange sun rises behind Old Abra's mottled shell, making him seem ancient and all-knowing; and Pip sets out on his quest with a worried expression and large, wondering eyes. Bright white backgrounds contrast sharply with the deeper tones, making his emotions more believable. Simple and uncluttered, the illustrations work well with the straightforward text, making this positive treatment of a common fear a good choice for sharing aloud.-Joy Fleishhacker, New York Public Library
Afraid of the dark, the salamander Pip is advised by a trio of leaping frogs to ask Old Abra, the wizard, for help. Convinced that only the wizard's magic will make him brave in the dark, Pip pursues the wizard into the shadowy woods, down a dark tunnel, and through the black night. Of course, when Pip finally catches up to Old Abra, the wizard points out that Pip has already found the necessary magic in his pursuit. Overjoyed and, perhaps, overconfident, Pip is last seen trying to use his "magic" to turn stones into mushrooms. Similar to her work in "Mouse Count" (1991) and other titles, Walsh's deceptively simple cut-paper collages are animated with a visual charm and a rhythmic wit that complement the simple yet satisfying story. Cleverly crafted both in story and design, "Pip's Magic" provides an altogether pleasant picture-book experience that will appeal to a wide range of children who understand what it means to be afraid of the dark and the power of Pip's magic.
From the Publisher
"A calming book for pre-schoolers who fear the dark and question their own powers of mastery....Delivers the message with enchantment.”—Children’s Book Review Magazine
"Friendly and reassuring.”—The Bulletin"Outstanding.”—The Boston Globe