Only a child can find the way to bring Saint George back to the play.
The Boy works for the Magician, and he wants more than anything to learn magic. But the Magician always says, "Not yet, Boy. Not till the time is right." So the Boy has to be content with polishing the Magician's wand, taking care of the rabbits the Magician pulls out of hats, and doing his favorite job: operating the puppets for the play Saint George and the Dragon, which the Magician always performs as part of his act.
Until one day the Saint George puppet disappears, and the angry Magician hurls the Boy into the strange Land of Story to find Saint George. His quest is full of adventures with oddly familiar people, from the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe to the Giant at the top of Jack's beanstalk. But the Boy's last adventure is the most amazing of all and changes his life forever.
About the Author
Susan Cooper is one of our foremost children’s authors; her classic five-book fantasy sequence The Dark Is Rising has sold millions of copies worldwide. Her many books have won the Newbery Medal, a Newbery Honor, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and been shortlisted five times for the Carnegie Medal. She combines fantasy with history in Victory (a Washington Post Top Ten for Children novel), King of Shadows and Ghost Hawk, and her magical The Boggart and the Monster, second in a trilogy, won the Scottish Arts Council’s Children’s Book Award. Susan Cooper lives on a saltmarsh island in Massachusetts, and you can visit her online at TheLostLand.com.
Serena Riglietti has illustrated many books for children worldwide, including the Italian editions of the Harry Potter series. She lives with her family in Italy. For more information visit her Web site at www.serenariglietti.it.
Read an Excerpt
There was once a Boy who worked for a Magician. Every day he polished the Magician's magic wands and the gold stars and moons on his great blue robe. He weeded the garden where the magic herbs grew, and crushed their seeds into powder for the Magician's spells. He worked very hard indeed. But he wasn't happy.
More than anything in the world, the Boy wanted to learn magic but the Magician would not teach him.
The Boy fed the six white rabbits that lived in a hutch in the garden, but he was always startled when he saw the Magician pull one of them out of somebody's hat. He washed the dishes in the kitchen, and watched enviously when the Magician picked up an empty jug and poured milk out of it. How did he do these things?
"Master," he begged, "teach me! Teach me magic!"
But the Magician always said, "Not yet, Boy. Not till the time is right. Not yet."
When the Magician went out to perform, the Boy went with him, to help him on stage, and to catch any rabbits he might pull out of hats. The Boy loved those days, because then he had one really special job too.
When the Magician performed, he always took with him a little puppet theatre in which he showed the play "Saint George and the Dragon" and the Boy was allowed to operate the puppets. The Boy stood on a box behind the tiny stage, hidden by a curtain, and he pulled the puppets' strings while the Magician told the story of the play.
It was an odd little play. One of the people in it was Father Christmas, but all he had to do was introduce the other characters to the audience. These were the wicked Dragon, who loved fighting; the Turkish Knight, who fought the Dragon but could never beat him; and the Doctor, who was there in case anyone was wounded. And of course there was the hero, Saint George.
The Boy was especially proud of the way he made Saint George kill the Dragon, at the end. The wounded Dragon staggered round in a circle, puffed out three clouds of white smoke, jumped up in the air and fell down dead. (The white smoke was really chalk dust, puffed by the Boy from a little pipe.) The watching children always cheered at this, so the Boy was pleased. It wasn't magic, but it was the next best thing.
One Christmas, the Magician and the Boy went to perform at a family party given by a Mr. and Mrs. Pennywinkle, in a grand stone house as big as a castle.
"Mr. Pennywinkle is a very important person!" said the Magician, frowning at the Boy. "Everything must be perfect!"
The Magician was a very tall man, with a beaky nose, black eyebrows like doormats, and a bristly mustache. He was alarming when he frowned.
The Boy said, "Yes, Master! Of course!" He gave the magic wands an extra polish, he shampooed the rabbits, and he repainted the trees on the back wall of the puppet theatre stage.
And off they went to the party.
Text copyright © 2005 by Susan Cooper
Illustrations copyright © 2005 by Serena Riglietti
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