________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 12 . . . . February 2, 2007

cover Toni Biscotti’s Magic Trick. (First Novels; 60).

Caroline Merola. Translated by Sarah Cummins.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2006.
63 pp., pbk. & cl, $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 978-0-88780-715-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-88780-719-0 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Magicians-Juvenile fiction.
Talent shows-Juvenile fiction.
Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.
Review by Tanya Boudreau.
*** /4 


Nonna smiled mysteriously. She got up and opened one of the doors of the cabinet and took out a large book. Its leather cover was cracked and split, but the gold letters still shone.
“I was wondering what you could do, too, Antonietta. Then I remembered this book. My uncle Eduardo gave it to me when I was your age. This is a book about magic. The last chapter is very interesting. It gives the secrets of amazing magic tricks.”
Antonietta was in a fever of excitement. She opened the book on her lap and carefully turned its pages. It had beautiful old engravings.  

It started because her hand went up in the air. Antonietta (nicknamed Toni) just volunteered to be in the school talent show - and she has no known talent except imitating cartoon characters!

     Unfortunately, that’s just not going to do in a show where there will be dancing, singing and musical performances. And definitely not for a talent show in which Marco Pirelli is participating. Marco’s hand going up was the reason Toni’s hand went up. Luckily, Nonna Maria, Toni’s grandmother, is a bit of a sorceress. She lends Toni an old leather magic book and a magical red ruby brooch. Nonna Maria does have special powers. She did keep the goldfish safe and alive - but older readers will see the humour when reading about these special powers.
     Children will read along as Toni prepares for her debut as a magician. Once Toni learns about her innocent hand and her guilty hand, she practices her magic show for her family and friends. She does have to use the magical red ruby brooch the day of the talent show, but not for the reasons she anticipated. There is a little mystery in this story, too. Marco’s talent for the show is kept secret until the day of the performance.
     Caroline Merola, an award-winning author for her graphic novels for young readers, is the author and illustrator of Toni Biscotti’s Magic Trick. She scatters some Italian words throughout the story through Nonna Maria. Besides reading some Italian words, older children will see the magic that comes with confidence. This is also a lovely story about family members believing in each other. Nonna Marie would not let Toni back out of the talent show. She assures Toni she can become an impressive magician.
     The illustrations show how awestruck Toni is with Marco. She wears heart-shaped glasses in the first chapter. Further on, daydreamed images of Marco are surrounded in flowers and hearts. And when Toni sees him at the library, her world becomes shaky- as demonstrated by the library stacks. The illustrations also reflect her growing confidence in herself; especially when she’s near Marco.
     Not only does Toni have Marco’s interest now, but she was magical all by herself. Toni Biscotti’s Magic Trick is a nice addition to any young reader collection.

Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB. 

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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