Young John Midas relives the legend of King Midas – via chocolate! – and learns the lesson of moderation in all things.
Magic Moment: John tries to eat a full plate of food without turning it into chocolate!
John took a plate of cold chicken and ham, potato chips, and a crisp, moist lettuce-and-tomato-salad. The white of the chicken, the pink of the ham, the gold of the potatoes, the pale green of the lettuce, and the red of the tomato looked delicious. He also took a half pint of milk, a thick-crusted whole-wheat roll and a cool pat of butter, a tumbler of water with ice cubes clinking against the glass, and a dish of fresh fruit— slices of orange and grapefruit and banana and grapes.
Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows by Asia Citro
Zoey discovers one of her mom’s magical creatures, a baby dragon, while Mom is away. Zoey creatively uses the scientific method to figure out how to feed and care for it.
Magic Moment: Zoey discovers the barn is…interesting. It’s full of books about magical creatures, medical equipment, and magical creatures.
Mom opened the door, and we stepped inside. The barn felt different. Magical. It was like I’d never seen it before. Now I knew it held secrets.
Kenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi
A retelling of Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon with gorgeous illustrations by the author, Tony DiTerlizzi. Here,the bookish rabbit, Kenny, befriends and cares for – and ultimately saves – the eccentric, gentle dragon, Grahame.
Magic Moment: The reader discovers Grahame likes…crême brulée!
“I like to see the world and savor it, not destroy it. So, instead of burning down a castle, I would admire its architecture. Instead of fighting a knight, I’d challenge him to a good game of chess. And I’d never eat a princess. Instead I’d create a wonderful flower arrangement for her – to match the silk drapes in her palace, of course.”
Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins
Three wry and curious (and philosophical) toys – Stingray, Lumphy (the plush buffalo), and Plastic (a red rubber ball) – at play in the Little Girl’s bedroom – reminiscent ofWinnie the Pooh.
Magic Moment: Lumphy discovers the scary washing machine in the basement is actually a soon-to-be-loyal friend, Frank.
The basement is dark, except for a single dim lightbulb shining in the ceiling…
The Little Girl left him sitting in a laundry hamper… Next to the hamper, the Washing Machine looms, towering in all its metal whiteness and terrifying bigness. Lumphy shuts his eyes and tries not to ponder it…
“I am a greasy buffalo,” he says to himself, because it sounds tough. But he doesn’t feel much better, and shuts his eyes to block out the sight of the big Machine.
“Quiet, are you?” says a friendly voice. “Shoot. I was hoping for some company…”
“I didn’t expect you to talk,” says Lumphy in a small voice.
“No one ever does. It’s a lonely life,” says Frank. “Just me and a dryer that never has anything interesting to say.”
The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith
A mysterious egg on the west coast of Scotland. Two young children, with the help of their grandfather, care for the strange creature that emerges. (Who turns out to be a phantom creature known to us all.)
Magic Moment: Their craggy grandfather tells them why they don’t need to worry about the creature. What will happen if people see him?
“They’ll think to themselves, oh, maybe it was just a log of wood or shadows on the water or salmon leaping or otters playing or a dead stag floating among the waves. They’ll never be sure. We are the only people who will ever know for certain that in that loch there lives the Water Horse.”
Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner
Ranger, the golden retriever who flunked out of search-and-rescue training, is able to go back in time to shepherd a family along the Oregon Trail, and do some searching and rescuing.
Magic Moment: What do you burn on the prairie to keep warm when you can’t find any wood? Buffalo chips!
When they’d left…there were plenty of trees along the way. Now, wood was scarce. The women had started bringing back buffalo dung for the fires instead. Buffalo chips made a fine, clean fire. They were easy to find… At first, Lizzie said she’d never eat anything cooked over buffalo chips, but that didn’t last long. Lizzie was as hungry as anyone else after a day of walking.
The 14th Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
It becomes 13-year-old Ellie’s problem when Grandpa Melvin drinks one of his inventor potions – and turns into his 13-year-old self! Ellie, with the help of her enterprising friend, Raj, manages to set things right – but along the playful way all learn lessons about the meaning of life.
Magic Moment: Ellie’s Mom (Grandpa Melvin’s daughter!) explains why he needs to go to school…
“School?” he sputters. “I already went to school. I have two PhDs, in case you’ve forgotten.”
“Too bad. You’re going. I called Bernadette this morning.” Bernadette is the middle school secretary and one of my mother’s friends.
“What did you tell her?” I ask.
She tips her head at my grandfather. “That Melvin here is my distant cousin’s kid. His dad died and his mom remarried a meth addict. He doesn’t get along with the new stepfather, who he secretly suspects started the fire that burned down the trailer with his dad in it. So he hitchhiked up here and I took him in.”
“That’s really good,” I tell her.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Dorothy Gale is whisked via a tornado to the magical Land of Oz. Joined by her three famous companions – the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion – they adventure along the yellow brick road to meet the infamous Wizard of Oz himself.
Magic Moment: What to pick?! But if you’ve never read the original, how about the Queen of the Mice rescues Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion from the poppy field…
So the Woodman went at once to the trees and began to work; and soon he made a truck out of the limbs of trees, from which he chopped away all the leaves and branches. He fastened it together with wooden pegs and made the four wheels out of short pieces of a big tree-trunk. So fast and so well did he work that by the time the mice began to arrive the truck was all ready for them.
They came from all directions, and there were thousands of them: big mice and little mice and middle-sized mice; and each one brought a piece of string in his mouth. It was about this time that Dorothy woke from her long sleep and opened her eyes. She was greatly astonished to find herself lying upon the grass with thousands of mice standing around looking at her timidly. But the Scarecrow told her about everything…
The Scarecrow and the Woodman now began to fasten the mice to the truck, using the strings they had brought. One end of a string was tied around the neck of each mouse and the other end to the truck. Of course the truck was a thousand times bigger than any of the mice who were to draw it; but when all the mice had been harnessed they were able to pull it quite easily. Even the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman could sit on it, and were drawn swiftly by their queer little horses to the place where the Lion lay asleep.
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville
Jeremy is just trying to avoid Mary Lou Hutton who wants to kiss him. Instead he’s got a dragon egg, and then a growing dragon to care for, assuming the mantle of responsibility for this curious creature.
Magic Moment: Jeremy has to say goodbye to Tiamat…
“You silly boy… Nothing you love is lost. Not really. Things, people—they always go away, sooner or later. You can’t hold them, any more than you can hold moonlight. But if they’ve touched you, if they’re inside you, then they’re still yours. The only things you ever really have are the ones you hold inside your heart.”
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Super lonely James Henry Trotter spills the magic green things he’s been given and discovers a giant peach has grown in the moonlight. When he gets inside, he is befriended by an eccentric collection of garden bugs. Together, they venture across the Atlantic Ocean with the help of a flock of seagulls harnessed to the peach, landing in New York City.
Magic Moment: James discovers he can get inside the peach…
Almost without knowing what he was doing, as though drawn by some powerful magnet, James Henry Trotter started walking slowly toward the giant peach…and stood directly beneath it, staring up at its great bulging sides. He put out a hand and touched it gently with the tip of one finger. It felt soft and warm and slightly furry, like the skin of a baby mouse. He moved a step closer and rubbed his cheek lightly against the soft skin. And then suddenly, while he was doing this, he happened to notice that right beside him and below him, close to the ground, there was a hole in the side of the peach.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Led by Lucy, the youngest of the Pevensie children, a portal is discovered in their country house that leads to the mythical land of Narnia where they meet the mighty lion, Aslan, and begin a series of adventures to save Narnia.
Magic Moment: There is no more magic moment in children’s literature than when Lucy, playing hide and seek with her siblings, first ventures into that wardrobe…
Looking into the inside, she saw several coats hanging up—mostly long fur coats… She immediately stepped into the wardrobe and got in among the coats and rubbed her face against them… Soon she went further in and found that there was a second row of coats hanging up behind the first one… She took a step further in—then two or three steps—always expecting to feel woodwork against the tips of her fingers… Then she noticed that there was something crunching under her feet… But instead of feeling the hard, smooth wood of the floor of the wardrobe, she felt something soft and powdery and extremely cold… Next moment she found that what was rubbing against her face and hands was no longer soft fur but something hard and rough and even prickly… And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her; not a few inches away where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Little Minli leaves her destitute parents and ventures off from her mountain home to seek out the Old Man of the Moon and learn the mysteries, buried in Chinese legend, that might save her family and their community.
Magic Moment: With the help of a dragon – and magic red thread – Minli manages to cross the air and ascend to the Never-Ending Mountain and the Old Man of the Moon.
[Minli] quickly kneeled on the ground and reached in her traveling bag for the two borrowed lines.
Da-A-Fu and the dragon grinned and together they made the borrowed lines into a kite. They fastened the page from the Book of Fortune onto Minli’s chopsticks and attached an end of the red cord to the kite…
The thread seemed to endlessly unwind. Even as the kite climbed upward, becoming the size of a name chop mark, the string continued. Slowly, it disappeared from view with the thread scratching the darkening sky with a faint red line.
But, there seemed to be no end to the string. As they wound up the thread, it seemed to get thicker and thicker. And when the string became the width of Minli’s little finger, a strange clattering…filled the air.
“Something has happened to the string,” the dragon gasped between heaves.
The thread—which was really now more like a thick silk rope—seemed to have divided itself into a long strange web, reinforced with bamboo stalks.
“The string,” Minli panted, “it’s…it’s a bridge!”
RUMP by Liesl Shurtliff
A wild and bountiful re-telling of Rumpelstiltskin, full of pesky pixies, gentle ogres, and a hot-headed Little Red Riding Hood in waiting, which also manages to teach valuable lessons about destiny, bullies, and family legacies.
Magic Moment: Rump smells trolls, but the trolls smell magic!
“You might as well explain it to him.”
“But…our secret,” said Bork.
“He is the secret,” said Mard. “You can smell it all over him.”
“Smell what on me?” I was getting tired of them saying I smelled. All I could smell was the rancid reek of trolls.
“Magic,” said Mard. “You smell like magic.”
“Magic? You can smell…magic?” I asked.
“It smells sweet,” said Bork, “but also kind of…bitter, like a tart berry. It’s hard to describe, but the smell is unmistakable and it’s all over you.”