Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Time of Green Magic - by Hilary McKay

When Abi's father remarries and they move, along with her new step-mother and step-brothers, to a tall, narrow, ivy-covered house with colored glass in the windows, and an arched front door with a lantern "straight out of Narnia" her grandmother in Jamaica tells her "So much ivy, so much news! What a time of green magic". Abi and her new siblings soon discover that there is magic in the house as they begin to experience things they are reading in books. Abi gets wet reading about a raft, and animals from the stories begin to appear. 

Abi seeks the help of her father, Theo, a nurse to find out if books can be magic.

'At the hospital', said Abi, 'do people ever come in because of books?'

'They'd be disappointed if they did,' said Theo. 'We're a bloodbath-and-counseling service, not a library. We've got a few kids' picture books and Willy-the-mop keeps a stack of newspapers for emergency puddles, but that's about it.'

'Yes, but do people ever come in because they've had accidents with books?'

'Ah...Right, got you! Yes. Yes they do. Books are dangerous things'.

And Theo goes on to explain how people hurt themselves by reading while walking, or dropping books on their toes, or getting locked into libraries after they close and "get injured breaking their way out". Frustrated, Abi tries harder to explain that she is more interested in magic. Theo then describes how children have hurt themselves by "trying to get through the backs of wardrobes...or "running trolleys into brick walls..."Sitting on broomsticks and launching themselves out of bedroom windows! Bothering dragons!"

Of course books are magic. But are they dangerous? Current events would tell us that they are. Right now, all over the country organized groups are attempting to have whole categories of books removed from school libraries. Books with LGBTQ themes or race or racism are being especially targeted. It is important to note, however, that there are attacks are coming from the left and the right. It seems that the word "harmful" has become a catch-all term for any book that someone doesn't like, and is afraid that someone else might.

Although this was about the magic of books there was only one  other place, near the very end of the story, where a library was mentioned. Abi's stepbrother Max goes to the library to find a book that he hopes will help recreate some of the magic he had experienced with their French nanny. 

I found this one in a Little Free Library. It was a quick fun read.  

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