Bad Magic, by Pseudonymous Bosch
Age 8-12, September 16, 2014
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 400 pgs (hardback)
Every so often a Junior Fiction story comes along that intrigues, mystifies, and entertains. Bad Magic does this. In true Bosch style, there are unsaid words that have meaning. People and mysteries threaded throughout, and a narrator that likes to talk to the reader about the characters. And not to forget sometimes the best part are the illustrations and clever word play. This whole story revolves around a word, well, several Bad Words, but most importantly it revolves around a boy Clay and his punishment for Not writing the words “Magic Sucks” on the wall of the school. NO really he swears he didn’t do it though How it ended up there, exactly in his handwriting, and in the same color as the words in his journal he isn’t sure. Even his psychologist parents (who have to parent via tablet and internet chat) think he did, and just does not want to talk about it.
Chad ends up in a wilderness retreat for kids with behavioral problems. There he lives with his Llama, swarms of bees, gardens to weed, an active volcano, and a mysterious library. Just your average, normal, somewhat perilous camp filled with somewhat dangerous kids.
I am always entertained by Bosh’s work and find them terrifically age appropriate. The energy and sideways witticism made me laugh so hard my kids asked if I was ok. This is a little easier to read than his Secret series, but geared for the same age range. The main character is a boy, but there are several supporting females and while it probably will appeal to boys more than girls, any child who loves a good mystery, prescient llamas, and an occasional trek across an active volcano is going to love this book.