A Tuesday Ten: Book Magic

All books are a type of magic, of course.  But in these stories, books, stories, and the characters from those stories are actually magical in some way.


The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, translated by Ralph Manheim (Dutton, c1979)

The ultimate in magical books, IMO.  Bastian steals a book from a bookseller, feeling compelled to read it.  The book reveals the story of Atreyu, and the search for the childlike Empress’s name.  The longer Bastian reads, the more he’s drawn into the story.  Until it becomes painfully clear that the story is no longer Atreyu’s, it’s his  and only by accepting his role will he find a way out again  . . .


Between Two Ends by David Ward (Harry N. Abrams, 2010)

A pair of magic pirate bookends enables young Yeats to enter the adventures inside of books.  Now he’s got to rescue the girl his father left behind years ago.  Will he succeed or become trapped inside the pages of the book himself?


So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, c1983)

Gee this series appears on a lot of my lists doesn’t it?  There are two magical books of note in this story, the first is the book entitled So You Want to Be a Wizard that Nita finds while hiding in the library.  The book winds up being a magical wizardry manual that starts her on the road to becoming a wizard.  The second book is the Book of Night With Moon, that Kit and Nita are sent to retrieve.   This second magical book winds up being part of the climax the story.  This is just the first in a long series of Young Wizards stories. But it’s still one of my favorites.


Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, translated by Anthea Bell (Chicken House, 2003)

In this book, Meggie discovers that her father can “read” certain fictional characters to life.  But when they are abducted by one of these fictional characters, life becomes a whole lot more adventerous.    This is the first book in the Inkworld Trilogy.


The Book Without Words: A Fable of Medieval Magic by Avi (Disney-Hyperion, c2003)

An alchemist is out to concoct a potion to buy him immortality, but to complete it he requires a mysterious tome called, The Book Without Words.  Thornton’s servant Sybil is pressed into looking for the book, but is immortality worth the price?


The Red Book by Barbara Lehman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004)

Yep, I’ve got a picture book on this list.  And a wordless picture book at that!  This Caldecott honor book is a charming image spun tale of a girl who finds a most extraordinary book, and where it takes her.  A great little read for any book lover.


Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham, illustrated by Mark Buckingham (Starscape, 2011)

This is a decidedly odd one that may be more for the adult readers than the middle grade readers.  Max “the Wolf” is a top notch Boy Scout who finds himself in the middle of an unfamiliar wilderness with no idea how he got there.  His companions are some other strange creatures including a badger named Banderbrock, a black bear named Walden and McTavish the Monster.    They’re on the run from the dangerous Blue Cutters, who seek to alter them beyond recognition . . . this author of Fables fame makes some poignant observations about written creations and how they’re regarded over time.  It’s a book about authors and stories and the characters created that go on after the authors.


The Great Good Thing by Roberick Townley (Atheneum, c2001)

Sylvie has been a twelve year old princess for more than 80 years.  She’s a character in a book–the heroine, in fact, of her story.  Sylvie desperately longs for something more than the same old story, but the day Sylvie breaks the rules and look up at the Reader sets her on an adventure of a lifetime!   This is book one in the The Sylvie Cycle trilogy, all three books track the lives of the characters of this one book and what happens to them.


Storybound by Marissa Burt (HarperCollins 2012)

In the land of Story, children go to school to become Characters.  Villains, Heroes, Sidekicks, etc.  The adults look for work in their own stories  Una Fairchild is from our world, and has always felt pretty invisible.  That is, until she stumbles through the pages of a mysterious book into the land of Story.  But all may not end in happily ever after for Una.   This is book one in the Storybound series.  To be honest, there seem to be an awful lot of stories taking on the idea of a school for fairytale characters.  Two of them out this year are    The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani (HarperCollins, 2013) ,and the first book in the new Ever After High series:  Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends  by Shannon Hale (Little, Brown, 2013).  Both of these stories also include magical books as well!



The Book of Story Beginnings by Kristin Kladstrup (Candlewick, 2006)

The Book of Story Beginnings is a strange and dangerous book that caused the disappearance of a boy named Oscar in 1914.  Nearly a century later, young Lucy discovers the book and Oscar reappears.  Now both of them are on an adventure to save Lucy’s father!  Another great stand alone title about a magic book.

What are your favorite magical book stories?  Comments welcome!


About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on December 12, 2013, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Man! I already have 5 books in the queue waiting to be read, and now I’m going to have to add more, thanks to this blog 😛 “Storybound” and “Inkheart” are probably going to join the other books. I’d actually heard of “Inkheart” a while back, when I was taking a children’s literature class. Better late than never!

  2. Ohhh, I love you for including The Red Book! That’s one of my favorite books now. Period. Picture book or not.

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