Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
One night, Gwyn asked his sister Bethan to go up the mountain and rescue his ewe; she was never seen again. Now he is 10, still blamed by his father for Bethan's disappearance, and wonders if his grandmother's hints that he is a magician could possibly be true. If he is, he wants to use his powers to get Bethan back. A girl, in fact, arrives in the village, so similar in her ways to Bethan that her presence acts as a salve on the family's wounds. And Gwyn, with the overeagerness of an apprentice, unleashes the darker side of his magic. Nimmo's story, set in the Welsh countryside, contains elements of SF and fantasy, but it's firmly grounded in very real themes of blame and responsibility. She displays a mastery of family nuancesthe little rituals that can keep a family whole or tear it apart if those same gestures are ignored or forgotten. Ages 10-up. (July)
There is nothing like a hearty brogue to drop a listener into a faraway land, in this case Wales in olden times. Keating's wonderfully rich voice does just that. Though this first volume of a trilogy takes place in present-day Wales, the past is alive, especially when nine-year-old Gwyn realizes that he may have the powers of his namesake, a magician from centuries ago. At the center of this adventure, Gwyn sets out on a journey to find his sister, who disappeared on a nearby mountain, without a trace, on the day Gwyn turned five. Keating's reading of the tale is flawless. He easily ranges from the boy's excitement and anticipation to the wavery voice of his eccentric grandmother, Nain. It is Nain who gives Gwyn five gifts for his ninth birthday, each a small object that he must "give to the wind" in order to receive strange and magical things in return. The first and most helpful is the snow spider, Arianwen, who spins webs that allow Gywn to peer into other worlds. Keating spins the tale in a similar way; his mastery may well convince readers that this fictional world is real. Ages 9-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Debra Lampert-Rudman
Harry Potter fans have reason to rejoice. A new, young magician has arrived from the UK with exciting adventures, which involve an amazing silver spider named "Arianwen" who spins silvery, magical cities and flying ships. Our young magician, Gwyn, lives a lonely life in Wales with his sad parents who lost their beloved daughter, Bethan, years earlier on Gwyn's birthday. Gwyn's father barely notices him because of the grief he's been carrying through the years, and each of Gwyn's birthdays is sadder than the last. On Gwyn's ninth birthday, however, Gwyn's grandmother, Nain, brings him five unusual gifts: a piece of seaweed, a yellow scarf, a tin whistle, a twisted metal brooch, and a small broken horse. These gifts will determine whether or not Gwyn has the magical touch believed to be his destiny passed down from his magical ancestors, Math, Lord of Gwynedd, Gwydion, and Gilfaethwy. The ways in which Gwyn discovers his gifts are clever and unusual. There are some exciting outdoor scenes and very inventive fantasy adventures that take place. Gwyn tells his mortal friends about his excitement about being a magician, but they shun him. As his grandmother warned him, the lonely boy becomes lonelier. Thanks to Arianwen, Gywn and his family's deepest desires are revealed through a visit from a strange, pale, young girl named Eirlys (her name means "snowdrop" in Welsh). With his magical powers, Gwyn is able to face the school bully, find his lost sister, bring his family back together, and is ultimately reunited with his friends. This beautifully written book moves quickly through its nine chapters. The only difficulty young readers may have with the story is identifying the characters withtheir names. The final chapter, "Return," may be a bit too frightening for 7- to 8-year-old readers. Those nine years of age and older will enjoy the exciting conclusion and wait anxiously for the second in the "Emlyn's Moon" trilogy. From "The Magician Trilogy," a series first published in England in 1986, which has been out of print for more than five years.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7 Gwyn's birthday is the anniversary of his sister's unexplained disappearance. Nain, Gwyn's grandmother, presents him with a collection of strange items including a brooch which eventually turns into a silver spider. Nain, either mad or a witch, looks for special powers of the ancestral magicians to be found again in Gwyn and tries to convince him that the magicians of the old Welsh legends are reborn in him. As the snow spider spins webs that reveal another world, Gwyn comes to understand that he is a magician, and he yearns for his heart's desire, the return of his sister. A new classmate enters his life and is befriended by his family. She is surely Bethan, the sister who had been taken to the other world seen in the web. The occurances of arcane and bizarre wonders increase extravagantly, almost out of control. But the reality of Gwyn, his parents, and the Welsh setting give this fantasy equilibrium and an appealing warmth. The pace is brisk and captivating. A good choice to lead into ``The Dark Is Rising'' series (Macmillan) by Susan Cooper. Lucy Hawley, Wescott School Library, Northbrook, Ill.
From the Publisher
This atmospheric fantasy starts with a boy, Gwyn, receiving five unusual gifts from his grandmother, Nain, on his ninth birthday. Thus begins a quest to find out whether he has inherited the gift of magic that returns once in every seven generations to his family and to discover what happened to his sister, who vanished mysteriously four years earlier. This new production is a worthy successor to a previous 1988 recording, as Keating's deep, rich voice, rolling musically over the Welsh words and phrases, effortlessly unravels the intricately descriptive sentences. Fans of Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising sequence and Nimmo's own Charlie Bone will find themselves swept up instantly in this first volume (winner of the Smarties Prize) of the series. KRISTI ELLE JEMTEGAARD
HORN BOOK - NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2006
(NOTE - This is a review of the AUDIO, not the BOOK)
Read by John Keating.
(Intermediate)This atmospheric fantasy starts with a boy, Gwyn, receiving five unusual gifts from his grandmother, Nain, on his ninth birthday. Thus begins a quest to find out whether he has inherited the gift of magic that returns once in every seven generations to his family and to discover what happened to his sister, who vanished mysteriously four years earlier. This new production is a worthy successor to a previous 1988 recording, as Keating's deep, rich voice, rolling musically over the Welsh words and phrases, effortlessly unravels the intricately descriptive sentences. Fans of Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising sequence and Nimmo's own Charlie Bone will find themselves swept up instantly in this first volume (winner of the Smarties Prize) of the series. KRISTI ELLE JEMTEGAARD