Get ready for a gushy review because I absolutely loved this book. OK, I'll try not to gush.
In The Time of Green Magic, Abi has lived with her beloved grandmother and her father, Theo, since her mother died when Abi was only a year old. But, now Theo has fallen in love. When Theo and Polly marry, two new siblings enter the family. Max is a teenager and Louis is 6. Abi hates being stuck in the middle. She misses her grandmother, who has moved to Jamaica, and doesn't particularly like her crowded new home.
When the family finds out they must move, the only place they can find that's acceptable is an ivy-covered old house with what Abi calls a "Narnia lamp" hanging by the front door. It's a little spooky but it's large enough for all of the children to have their own rooms. But, once they move in, strange things begin to happen. When Abi is reading a book about someone on a raft in the ocean, she feels the wind and hears the waves. It's like she was really there.
Meanwhile, Louis wants a friend and he thinks an owl (a "nowl" in Louis-speak) has been taking the treats he leaves on the windowsill. But, one day the animal that he's been feeding comes in and it is not an owl at all. And the more it comes to visit, the larger and more volatile it becomes. Can the magic of the ivy-covered house save the family?
Highly recommended - Ohmygosh, I loved this book. I loved the touches of magic, the writing, the description of the house. But, what I really loved more than anything was the characterization. Max, Abi, and Louis all acted their age. I've tired of the "young genius" trope. It was a delight to read about a 6-year-old behaving like a little kid and making a mistake that could get him killed. I also loved Theo's kindness and found him a believable parent — the kind who is fun and caring and a little silly but also has a lot of weight on his shoulders. The way the magic of the house helps the children work through their issues and band together is just marvelous. I will have to see what else I can find by this author. I loved this book so much I can hardly tell you.
The Time of Green Magic is the first ARC I've read since I considered leaving the blog world and decided to just give up ARCs for a while (maybe permanently), instead. It took me a couple months to get over that feeling of anxiety that ARC reading had begun to give me. It was just time to read off my own shelves exclusively. But, I'm so glad I got to read The Time of Green Magic. It is every bit as magical as its title indicates, with characters that I absolutely adored. Because everything is wacko, thanks to COVID-19, I have no idea whether or not it released in July, as the cover says, but if you have a middle grader who loves a touch of magic, it's worth ordering. Or, buy it for yourself. I love it enough to recommend it to other adults.
My thanks to Simon & Schuster for the review copy!
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