Another of our recent crop of new books is 27 Magic Words by Sharelle Byars Moranville. Kobi’s father is a magician, and her mother is a writer. Before setting sail around the world, Kobi’s mother gave her 27 magic words. Unfortunately, it’s taking her parents an awfully long time to come back from their trip. In the meantime, Kobi and her sister Brook are living with their grandmother in Paris. Little by little, Kobi has figured out what each of the magic words means. For instance, the word Avanti makes it possible for Kobi to see her parents, Temporarily means that things will get better for unfortunate people, and Iridescence brings out the beauty in small things.
But everything gets turned on its head when Grandmother decides to remarry and the girls are sent to stay with their Uncle Wim in America. There are strange people, a new school, and Kobi’s words just don’t seem to be working as well as they used to. She’s having a hard time fitting in, math doesn’t make any sense, and she’s becoming a terrible liar. And why, oh why, won’t her parents hurry up and get home??
This is a beautiful book about grief, and the different coping mechanisms employed by children and adults to deal with it. It’s well written, and I was rooting for Kobi’s parents to come home. I was praying that her magic words would work to change things for her. Moranville writes very real, charming characters that I liked very much. Kobi isn’t perfect, and that makes her even more likeable. Even when she’s doing what’s easy instead of what’s right I knew how she felt, and couldn’t honestly say that I would have been as brave as she was.
I would recommend this to anyone who likes magical reality stories, even though it isn’t actually magical reality—more like magical thinking. It would also be a great recommend for kids in grades 4-6 dealing with grief, or who have friends who are grieving. It’s basically just a good book that you should go out and read.