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Magic Lessons
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Gr 8 Up-This sequel to Magic or Madness (Penguin, 2005) opens with 15-year-old Reason Cansino reminiscing about her early life with her mother, bringing new readers and fans of the first book up to speed. A magical golem-type creature comes in through the door that links her grandmother's house in Australia and New York City and attacks the magically talented teen and her similarly gifted friends, Tom and Jay-Tee. When Reason is pulled through the door and lands in Manhattan, she turns to Jay-Tee's brother, Danny, for shelter. After determining that the attacks come from "Old Man Cansino," one of her ancestors, she has to figure out what he's trying to teach her, and how he's been able to survive for hundreds of years, since most magic users either die very young from using their power or go insane if they do not. Reason has sex with Danny and, at the end of this installment, she is pregnant and is charged with saving the others from their seemingly no-win situations. Larbalestier creates complex relationships among her characters, and their realistic flaws, combined with the sense of danger throughout, make this a good choice for even reluctant readers. Details about how Reason and her friends perceive and use magic add to the realism and immediacy of the story. Australian terms are defined in a somewhat humorous glossary but are generally understandable from context clues.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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