CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 38. . . . June 1, 2018
Charlie’s grandpa used to be a magician, but he would never tell Charlie how he did his tricks. “He always said that was a magician’s secret.” But Grandpa’s magic didn’t stop with his repertoire of tricks. In the cobwebby attic was an old wooden trunk, Grandpa’s Magic Story Chest. Inside was a collection of objects, and each object transported Charlie into his grandpa’s adventures: an hourglass from King Tut’s tomb, the white scarf from World War I's flying ace, the Red Baron, and a coconut from an encounter with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Magician’s Secret is the story of the magic of imagination with its power to achieve a dream. It’s the story of the sharing of a grandfather’s spirit of adventure with his grandson.
This book, the third by Zachary Hyman, a professional hockey player with the Toronto Maple Leafs, will captivate young audiences. It expands the concept of magic from tricks to imaginative exploits. Children will not only be intrigued by the adventures associated with Grandpa’s objects, but their eyes will be opened to the possibility of exploring their own dreams,
The format of The Magician’s Secret is excellent. The conversational tone draws the reader through the story. The remarkable art work by Joe Bluhm showcases the relationship between Charlie and his grandpa and transports the reader into each adventure, providing glimpses of how the imagination can make a dream a reality. The full-page spreads change from sepia tones to greys to colour depending on the emotions behind the telling of the different parts of the story. The font, changing from black to white depending on the background, is small for a young reader. However, this book is best shared as a read-aloud. Any adult will be equally thrilled by the story, its rich language and the wonderful illustrations. When Charlie’s father tells him his grandpa’s stories are make-believe, Grandpa replies “You know the trouble with grown-ups, Charlie? They don’t have faith in make-believe anymore. And that’s too bad, because when you use your imagination, you can turn a dream into something real.” These words are food for thought for any grown-up, and The Magician’s Secret is a special way to share ideas between generations.
Janice Foster is a retired teacher and teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.