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The Magician's Boy

The Magician's Boy

3.0 3
by Susan Cooper, Serena Riglietti

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Newbery Medalist Cooper (The Dark Is Rising) offers a lighthearted fantasy centering on a Magician's helper. While operating the puppets in his master's rendition of "St. George and the Dragon," the apprentice discovers that the St. George puppet has disappeared. When the angry Magician insists that the lad locate the star puppet, the Boy falls into the pages of an open book and winds up in the Land of Story. There a talking signpost bears the words, "Only a child can find the way/ To bring Saint George back to the play." To accomplish this, explains the post, the Boy must "travel through stories" and choose a nursery rhyme. When he selects the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, the signpost quips (in one of Cooper's characteristically spry lines), "Not a great choice.... She doesn't get out much." Pinocchio makes a rather bland cameo, but the Boy has more entertaining encounters with the likes of the Pied Piper, Little Red Riding Hood and "four and twenty blackbirds," who finally lead him to the Dragon. The signpost reveals a delectable twist as to the Saint's whereabouts. Despite an inventive finale, the narrative falls short of delivering the magic Cooper's fans have come to expect. The theme feels familiar, and the prose lacks the compelling force of many of her previous novels. Riglietti's half-tone stylized illustrations nimbly capture the story's whimsy, whether single-page or splashing across a spread. Recent graduates to chapter books will most appreciate this caper. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Boy, who works for a Magician, wants more than anything to learn magic. But the Magician keeps telling him that the time is not yet right. Boy is eager to learn and works conscientiously at his many jobs including polishing the Magician's magic wands and weeding the garden. His favorite job is operating the puppets for a play, "St. George and the Dragon." At a very important party, where everything must be perfect, Boy begins the show then realizes that the puppet, St. George, has disappeared. What can he do? He knows he must find St. George, so goes off on a Quest through the Land of Story to try find the lost puppet. Boy's journey leads him to meet the Old Woman in a Shoe, Jack in the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and other familiar characters. He cannot seem to find any clues and despairs of ever finding St. George. His eventual success leads to more than he dreamed of. Ms. Cooper brings in characters from the world of fairy tales and nursery rhymes throughout this charming allegory for a younger audience. She received a Newbery Medal for her young adult novel, The Grey King, a story interwoven with Celtic myth and legend. 2005, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Ages 8 to 12.
—Janet Crane Barley
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-A master of fantasy tells a fanciful tale for young children. Boy works for a Magician, polishing wands, feeding the rabbits, and performing a puppet show of "Saint George and the Dragon." Then, one day, the Saint George puppet is missing, so the Magician sends the Boy through the Land of Story to find it. On his quest, he meets many nursery-rhyme and fairy-tale characters from stories such as "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Little Red Riding Hood," and the "The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe." Using the cryptic clue, "Only a child can find the way/To bring Saint George back to the play," the Boy steps forward to save the day. The black-and-white illustrations reflect the whimsy and amazement of the story perfectly. This beautifully simple and joyous book is perfect both for newly independent readers to tackle on their own and for adults to share with youngsters.-Tasha Saecker, Caestecker Public Library, Green Lake, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The Boy works for a magician: feeding rabbits, polishing magic wands, weeding the garden, and washing dishes. But when pulling the puppets' strings in a production of "Saint George and the Dragon," the Boy is horrified to find that Saint George is missing, and the Boy must travel in the Land of Story to find him. There, he encounters characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales. He helps the Old Lady Who Lives in a Shoe get her children back from the Pied Piper, warns Red Riding Hood about the wolf, and gets help from four-and-twenty blackbirds. Pinocchio is there, as are Jack, the Giant, and Father Christmas, all in each other's stories to help the Boy on his quest. By story's end, the Boy comes into his own and finds his name: George. Riglietti's magical illustrations perfectly complement the lively text, and large print and generous white space create a pleasing, spacious design. Perfect for reading aloud, the tale will encourage readers and listeners to revisit familiar fairy tales and nursery rhymes. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
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File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Magician's Boy

By Susan Cooper

Margaret K. McElderry Books

Copyright © 2005 Susan Cooper
All right reserved.

ISBN: 068987622X

Chapter One

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 operatethe 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


Excerpted from The Magician's Boy by Susan Cooper Copyright © 2005 by Susan Cooper. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Susan Cooper is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement. Her classic five-book fantasy sequence The Dark Is Rising won the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor. She is also the author of Victory, a Booklist Top Ten Historical Fiction for Youth book and a Washington Post Top Ten for Children novel; King of Shadows, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor book; The Boggart; Seaward; Ghost Hawk; and many other acclaimed novels for young readers and listeners. She lives 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.

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