The Wonder Smith and His Son by Ella Young (published 1927) tells traditional Irish tales about the Gubban Saor, a magical builder (spelled elsewhere on the web as Gobán Saor). I had not been familiar with this traditional character from Irish history, so these stories were all new to me! They were quite strange. Unlike

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A Little Bit Super is a collection of stories about teenagers with superpowers, but their super powers are, unfortunately a bit limited. One teen can talk to animals, but only one day a month. Another can get his wishes granted when he crosses his fingers, but it only works for small, somewhat insignificant wishes. Yet

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The Voyagers: Being Legends and Romances of Atlantic Discovery by Padraic Colum (published 1925; reissued 2022 by Smidgen Press) was awarded a 1926 Newbery Honor. The subtitle describes the book very well. With a framework of Henry the Navigator viewing the Atlantic from a tall tower, various medieval scholars tell the tales of the lost

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The origin of the Iñupiaq Messenger Feast (an ancient tradition for native Alaskans) is retold in the magical middle grade novel Eagle Drums by Nasugraq Rainey Hopson (Roaring Brook Press, 2023). Piŋa is a resourceful and helpful young man for his father and mother, but when he goes to the mountain to collect obsidian rock, he

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Middle grade readers will find themselves in for a fantastic and magical “backyard” adventure when they read Elf Dog and Owl Head by M.T. Anderson (illustrated by Junyi Wu; Candlewick 2023). This novel’s summary threw me off, because it sounded like it would be about a boy dealing with the annoyance of remaining home during

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Tales from Silver Lands by Charles Finger (originally published 1924) weaves together tales the author collected during travels to Central and South America throughout his life. As with many volumes of stories, they range in interest, plot, and theme. Some stories are directly connected to the previous ones in the volume. Others are separate tales

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The Caldecott-winning illustrations of The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin, 1985) are only part of the magic of this Christmas story. One Christmas Eve, a young boy lies awake, listening for Santa’s sleigh bells. But he doesn’t hear bells: he hears a train. And there it is outside the door, waiting to take him

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The Old Tobacco Shop: The True Account of What Befell a Little Boy in Search of Adventure by William Bowen (first published 1922) and runner-up to the first year of the Newbery Medal, is even worse than the tobacco-filled title can suggest. With racist sterotypes, smoking by a young child, and bizarre, unconnected adventures, The

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