The Time of Green Magic

S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Jul. 2020. 240p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534462762.
Gr 5-7– Eleven-year-old Abi, motherless since infancy, and her recently blended family have moved into an old ivy-covered house in north London, where she must learn to navigate life between older and younger stepbrothers Max and Louis. Now that her father Theo is remarried, her beloved Granny Grace who helped raise her has moved back to Jamaica, sending her wise and encouraging letters which are the envy of six-year-old Louis. In the new house, Abi’s escape into reading in her attic bedroom takes on a strange new dimension; not only does she feel herself becoming part of the stories but she finds tangible evidence of the books’ settings. When stepmother Polly goes on an extended business trip, French art student Esme is hired to watch Louis after school, providing Max, 13, with his first infatuation and Louis with a mysterious night visitor, Iffen, a catlike creature derived from Esme’s drawings. As Abi and Max devise a plan to rescue Louis from Iffen’s growing menace, they form a bond which points the way to true familial love and loyalty. As in her “Saffy’s Angel” series, McKay employs deft characterization, vivid setting, delicious humor and some beautifully lyrical language to portray the struggles and successes of what it means to be a family.
VERDICT A perfect mix of magic and realism. Recommended for juvenile fantasy collections.

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