Miri is having a tough time of it. Life as the middle child between two sets of twins is challenging at the best of times, but now that they've moved to a new house, a place that is rumored to have stolen treasure hidden somewhere on the property. The younger set of twins is too young to care, and her older brothers are determined to find it themselves, excluding Miri at every turn. Then she has a fight with one of her brothers, who chases her, pushes her and breaks her glasses. She loses her temper, bops him on the head with a shovel, and gets sent to her room in disgrace.
There, stuck in her room, in a terrible mood, Miri stews. Then she happens upon something curious. Taped against the wall, is a piece of glass. When she looks through it, she finds herself transported back in time - same house, but decades earlier. There she meets a little girl just her age named Molly. Molly is in a desperate situation and needs Miri's help. But this whole magic thing is so confusing. They need to figure out the rules so Molly can get Miri to a safe place before it's too late.
This is a charming time-travel mystery, with two very sympathetic heroines, a thoroughly nasty villain, and a wonderfully baffling situation that is sure to delight young readers. It explores the eternal riddle of time travel - if something is changed in the past, does it change the future? Or is the past fixed and immutable because of the way the present has turned out? This is a wonderful introduction to the genre for children, and I read it aloud to my own girls (ages 8 and 10). They were literally on the edge of their seats, hopping up and down with excitement as we approached the climax of the novel. They laughed at the humor (particularly at the realistic and very funny dialogue between the siblings), recoiled at the villain (one even had a nightmare about him), and bounced up and down on either side of me on the sofa as the tension mounted. And they rejoiced in the just-right ending.
Annie Barrows is also the author of the children's Ivy and Bean series, as well as co-author of the very popular adult novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Check out this great blog for a fascinating interview with the author.
The Magic Half by Annie Barrows (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2008)
Also reviewed at:
The Miry Wilds: " This was a very sweet and magical romp!"
A Year of Reading: "...it is a great first time-travel book for readers new to this genre. Simple enough to understand, yet with enough time travel questions--can you change history--to pull new readers into the genre of time travel books."