The Magic Mirror: Concerning a Lonely Princess, a Foundling Girl, a Scheming King, and a Pickpocket Squirrel

320p. ebook available. Knopf. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780553511345; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780553511352.
Gr 4–7—A magic mirror, traded for Margaret's crutch, sets off a merry fugue of medieval travels. Although the focus continually returns to Margaret, the lives of a delightful cast of characters, including her sullen mistress, a wily peddler, a boy with bagpipes, a monk, a beggar, a lonely and frightened princess, and even the wild-eyed man whose face appears to Margaret in the mirror, are gradually untangled and rewoven together. The sense of anticipation as connections are revealed to readers before the characters make them is fun and pushes the story forward. These twists and turns may be a concern for struggling readers, but period-inspired comedy will maintain engagement, especially when combined with such a lively plot. The whip-smart dialogue plainly divulges deep characterization without falling back on tiresome exposition. Although the book, including the cover art, seems to advertise a fairy tale, the historical aspects of the novel actually shine brighter, even when they focus on some of the lighter aspects of medieval life.
VERDICT A finely written historical romp for strong readers.

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