Review of One Jar of Magic, by Corey Ann Haydu
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The Children’s Book Review
Written by Corey Ann Haydu
Ages 8-12 | 352 Pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books | ISBN: 9780062689856
What to expect: Magical-Realism, Friendship, Dysfunctional Family Relationships, and Domestic Violence
Written by the acclaimed author of Eventown, Corey Ann Haydu, One Jar of Magic is a tender middle grade novel that weaves enchanting magic together with the very real complexities of growing up, struggling with friendships, and dealing with dysfunctional family life. The story communicates powerfully and effectively to readers that it’s okay to be imperfect in an imperfect world and that even if the fight is hard, the battle for hope and joy is one worth the fight.
Rose Alice Anders and her family live a little unconventionally because her dad is the most magical person in Bellingham Bright. As much as Rose would love to have a life a little more like some of the other kids in town, an extra magical life is a tradeoff. Once a year, on New Year’s Day, everyone ages twelve and up heads to TooBlue Lake to capture a year’s supply of magic. Everyone expects Rose, also known as Little Luck, to capture more magic than any other 12-year-old. Rose knows she needs to become the person she’s supposed to be on New Year’s Day, and the pressure on her mounts. Rose is so caught up in learning to catch jars of magic and her father’s belief in her as Little Luck, that she hasn’t noticed that her relationship with her best friend Ginger is becoming strained. When the day arrives, and Rose barely manages to capture one jar of magic, she begins to wonder if she is meant for magic at all. Are there more ways than one for being great?
One Jar of Magic is so perfectly paced, carefully constructed, and delicately detailed that you barely notice it creep into the solar plexus until it sits in your throat for a while and then takes hold of your heart. By using magic, Haydu has created a safe space for children to discover that they are worthy of a safe home, that there are people who can help, and that they are not alone. Children will feel very seen when reading this book, and hopefully, they will discover that they are enough just as they are.
Life can be challenging, and Haydu trusts her readers by demonstrating that they do not have to pretend that it is not. Her characters are all relatable and believable, as is Haydu’s depiction and use of magic. And although there is a deep underlying score of sadness in this story, this book’s real magic lies in the uplifting message of looking for hope and learning to fight for more.
Corey Ann Haydu’s One Jar of Magic gracefully honors both the pain and joy that can exist in family life. As Rose’s struggles with magic mount and readers discover her family’s secrets, Haydu’s writing induces a storm of feelings that will leave you ready to take on the world that sometimes feels more wrong than right. Highly Recommended.
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About the Author
Corey Ann Haydu is the author of Eventown, The Someday Suitcase, and Rules for Stealing Stars and four acclaimed books for teens. She grew up in the Boston area, earned her MFA at the New School, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her dog Oscar.
Find out more at www.coreyannhaydu.com.
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