By Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas
Possum Magic is a best seller in Australia, written by their beloved children’s writer Mem Fox.
Hush and Grandma Poss live in a tree. Grandma Poss knows magic to turn wombats blue and kookaburras pink. But best of all, she turns Hush invisible, to protect her from the dangers of the bush, like hungry snakes! One day, Hush wonders what she looks like, for she cannot see herself in the pond. Grandma Poss searches her books for the removal spell, but cannot find it. She remembers it has something to do with food, human food. So they ride a bicycle to Australia’s major cities, trying out Anzac biscuits, monray and Minties. Nothing works, so they head off to cities in the far north. Find out what Australian foods she eats to regain her visibility.
Possum Magic’s whimsical illustrations are endearing to readers. The story is a great way to introduce young readers to Australia, the animals and foods different than those in the states. It includes a glossary explaining Australian terms, and a map showing the cities and foods.
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The Girl in the Golden Bower
By Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jane Dyer
Little Brown, 1994
This original magical fairy tale is a rich, full and satisfying story by master storyteller Jane Yolen, and exquisite artist Jane Dyer.
A lost young woman, is cared for by a woodsman, and they eventually marry and have a girl, Aurea, which means gold. An evil Sorceress believes a magic charm resides at their home. She becomes the cook and caretaker for the woman, who has become ill. The Sorceress shuns Aurea, and creates marvelous meals for the two adults. On her death bed, the woman gives Aurea a comb and says, “It is all I can leave you, my child, all that is mine alone to give. It belonged to my mother, who gave it to me. It will watch over you when I cannot.” The sorceress could not get the woodsman to tell her of the charm and he ‘disappears’. The evil woman began properly caring for the child, but Aurea did not trust the cook. The girl, instead, befriended the forest animals. At last the sorceress put a sleeping spell on the girl and returned a week later to retrieve the comb, but instead a young woman lay in a golden bower. The evil woman started removing the golden items. In time, and in the ways of magic tales, all is turned right and the young girl and her grandfather live happily ever after. But not so, the sorceress.
An enchanting tale, more for the 6-8 year olds, the book takes readers to another time, another land where magic exists and good always wins out. Reading The Girl in the Golden Bower and savoring each page’s beauty is an experience and joy. This 20-year old book is still a strong seller, one that belongs on nearly every girl’s shelf.
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