Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

To Come and Go Like Magic

To Come and Go Like Magic

Spring 2010 Fiction
Ages: 10 & Up
Author: Katie Pickard Fawcett
ISBN: 9780375858468
Hardcover Price: $16.99

This charming story set in rural Kentucky, and told by seventh-grade Chileda Su Mahoney is a sweet and poignant coming-of-age tale about families and what it means to call a place "home".

Chili wants out. She wants to travel and see the world. She dreams of oceans and cities beyond the coal smoke and sawdust of hometown Mercy Hill. For her, leaving is all that matters. As she temporarily satisfies her wanderlust through Miss Matlock's dusty exotic travel books, she notes there's not even one speck on Miss Matlock's globe to show Mercy Hill. Chili's observations are sharp and her colloquialism enriches every page.

Chili collects words the way her best friends Ginny and Priscilla collect magazines and hair ribbons, writing them down in her little red notebook when they strike her. It's a fitting device, as it is words - fragments and overheard whispers - that help Chili piece together the mysteries of the mountains, and the people and ghosts living in its shadows.

This is a vibrant portrait of a place and culture - Appalachia in the 1970s - which Fawcett captures with evocative details like the honeysuckle vines, baloney sandwiches at Brock's store where the men play dominos, and crawdads in mud castles along the riverbank. There's a wonderfully balanced stream of characters - Aunt Rose, Zeno Mayfield, Uncle Lucius and Mayme Murphy -- and none of them are wasted. Their secrets and quirks color the lush landscape of this fictional town.

The theme of leaving and returning is echoed all the way through the story and Fawcett captures perfectly the complicated relationship we all have with "home". Her crisp clean prose moves the story along; her delightful chapter titles and scenes hum airily like the sphinx moths in Aunt Rose's jasmine bushes.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2010 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

Look for this product at:
Random House Children's Books/Knopf

Share This