It was with trepidation that I began reading Magician in the Trunk, Candice Ransom, (2007, 119 pages) because in it three kids attend the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. In the book I wrote and will self-publish soon (as soon as someone lights that fire under me), my main characters also go to a World’s Fair, the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. What if reading about their world fair was more fun than reading about my world fair? I would be jealous. Happily, I can report that while I found commonalities between our books, the fairs offered enough different attractions that I think it could be interesting to read about both. There are enough world-fairs-as-time-travel-destinations to go around.
In this story, siblings Mattie, age 9, and Alex, age 8 and their younger sister, find themselves at the 1893 World’s Fair via a magic spyglass that they found in a secret room in their house. From past time travel adventures they have gone on, they believe the trip has a mission, which they must figure out and solve. They meet magician Harry Houdini who is not yet world-famous. The kids actually get to go on stage and help with his show, and readers are given insight into how Houdini performed some of his illusions, which is interesting.There is a thief at the fair, and a short chase scene ensues when the three kids are mistakenly thought to be the robbers. The author ties the parts of the plot about the thief together with the storyline about Houdini nicely.
The kids on the book cover look young. Alex looks five, if he’s a day. This book is recommended for children aged 6-10. Perhaps it would be suitable for those who have recently exhausted the Magic Treehouse library. The book is enlivened with a few black and white drawings. There is nothing terribly original here, but the characters were good-natured, and it was fun story. There are at least seven books in this series (I’ll have to add this to my list of time travel book series), although this one, and perhaps others in he series are out of print. I like the time travel locales of the other books in the series, and would like to check them out when I have time.