13-year-old Nita Callahan seeks refuge from some bullies at her local library, and as she's waiting for them to lose interest in her, she finds a book she's never noticed before. It' s in among the career books that have titles such as So You Want to Be a Doctor and So You Want to Be an Architect, but this one is called So You Want to Be a Wizard. At first, she thinks it's a joke, and she reads it with a sort of wistful desire that it could be real. If it were, and she could be a powerful wizard, she'd never have to worry about bullies again.
She takes the book home, but on her way the bullies catch up with her, and not only do they beat her up - again - they also take her beloved space pen, the kind the astronauts use. Later, looking through the book, she reads aloud the Wizard's Oath, and strange things begin to happen. She hears the trees talking, for one thing - and she can talk back to them! She encounters Kit, a classmate from school, and is astounded to find him casting a spell - he has a wizard's manual, too, and he's also recently taken the Oath.
The manual informs them they must pass a test, a sort of initiation into wizardry. Kit and Nita have no idea what such a test might entail, but when they take the train to Manhattan, a simple errand becomes an adventure fraught with peril and mystery in an alternate New York City bereft of sunlight and stars, with demonic machines hungry for human flesh and a lone, powerful figure intent on their destruction.
I read this book to my seven- and nine-year-olds, and while I believe it was a bit too complex for my younger daughter, they both enjoyed it immensely. I read it myself quite a few years ago, and while I remembered loving it, the details were hazy in my mind. It was fun rereading it with them.
Nita is a feisty heroine; she hasn't the stomach for violence when it comes to combating bullies, yet she proves her courage when what matters most is at stake, while still maintaining her compassion. There is no sitting around waiting to be rescued for Nita, and it is always a pleasure to read books with such heroines to my girls - she and Kit work together as a team, using their various strengths to solve their problems. Much is at stake in these books, and sacrifices are made in the monumental battles between good and evil. Nita and Kit's adventures continue throughout many more volumes of this series, and they change and grow, meeting even more difficult challenges. I look forward to rereading these books with my girls, but I do think I'll wait till they're a little bit older before we begin the next one.
This book counts towards Molly's Personal Reading Challenge, and is book six of the ten books from my own bookshelves that I'm hoping to read this year (library books are the mainstay of my reading habit).
Books in the Young Wizards series:
1. So You Want to Be a Wizard
2. Deep Wizardry
3. High Wizardry
4. A Wizard Abroad
5. The Wizard's Dilemma
6. A Wizard Alone
7. A Wizard's Holiday Book
8. Wizards at War
So You Want to Be a Wizard (#1 in the Young Wizards series) by Diane Duane (Magic Carpet Books, 2003 reprint)
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