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When your daughter hands you a book and tells you it’s the best book she’s read in a while, you read it! A Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay is a fantastical story set in the real world with compelling characters and vivid writing.

The Story

Living in a magical house that can bring books and pictures to life might sound amazing. But in reality, it’s full of danger. Abi’s father has recently married Max and Louis’s mom, Now their blended family has moved into a somewhat spooky house covered with magical-looking ivy. Abi and the boys struggle to get along, so she escapes into the world of books as always. But there’s something different about when she reads in this house. Mysterious things happen like her book turning up wet and her fingers tasting of salt.

And then there’s Louis. His mom is on and endless business trip, Abi doesn’t seem to like him, and Max is lovesick. His open window and the green ivy become an invitation to a magical creature that demands both affection and fear.

But the increasing mystery and danger gradually draw these three new siblings together as they work to protect Louis and put all the magic back where it belongs.

What I loved

Vivid descriptions–McKay really makes the world come alive, especially the magical bits.

Sibling relationships–Though things get off to a rocky start (as I bet many blended families do), I love the closeness that develops between Abi, Max, and Louis.

Parents should know

I can’t find much to object to. There is some peril and sibling bickering. There isn’t any actual romance, but fourteen-year old Max is lovesick over Esmé, Louis’s French babysitter. There is one scene, where he first sees her, that he notices a pink bra strap.

A Time of Green Magic is a captivating read that might make your kids think twice about wishing for magic. It just might also give them a peek at how miraculous our world already is.

Looking for more magical middle-grade novels? Check out my list, Beyond Narnia.

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