Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Time Spies: Magician in the Trunk

Time Spies: Magician in the Trunk

Candice F. Ransom
Illustrator:  Greg Call 
Historical Fiction
For ages 7 to 9
Mirrorstone, 2007   ISBN: 978-0786940707

Mattie, Alex and Sophie are all excited because they know that there is a big box of fireworks in the garden shed. The hard part is knowing that they are going to have to wait a whole two weeks until the Fourth of July before they can see them go off. On the Fourth their parents are having a special Independence Day celebration at the inn that they now own. Being a kind man the children’s father lets them light one sparkler each and as they write their names in the night sky the children learn that a new visitor, Ms. Pettibone-Shute, has arrived at the inn. Not only that, but Ms. Pettibone-Shute is staying in the Jefferson Suite. All three children know what this means and they eagerly look forward to finding out where the visitor will send them for their next adventure.

The next morning they talk to Ms. Pettibone-Shute and try to find out some more about her. She is an antiques dealer and she tells them about how famous pieces of furniture often have interesting stories to tell. After she writes a postcard she leaves the inn for the day and the children set off on their adventure, using an old, and very magical, spyglass in a secret room to travel back in time.

To their astonishment they find that they have traveled to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. The fair is packed with people and full of marvelous things to look at and the children wonder how on earth they are going to figure out what their mission is. The children look at all kinds of exhibits and then they go to the Midway. There they watch and then meet Harry Houdini, the magician. When the children hear that Harry and his brother are having a hard time drumming up an audience the children decide to help. Mattie is sure that this must be their mission and she is determined to sell as many tickets as she can for Harry Houdini.

Then their mission is suddenly made a lot more complicated when someone steals a priceless artifact from one of the exhibits and the children are accused of the theft. Not long after, other items on display are also stolen. Clearly the only thing to do is to try to find the real thief before it is too late and before time is changed in some dreadful way which will affect the future.

Young readers who have never really heard of the Chicago World’s Fair will be fascinated to hear about this singular event which took place in 1893. Many extraordinary things were on exhibit at the fair and seeing everything through the eyes of these three modern day children will give readers a very unique journey back in time.

A ‘letter’ in the back of the book provides further information about the 1893 World Fair and about the great Harry Houdini. A Time Spies Mission will help readers to learn how to perfect the art of using misdirection so as to be able to perform conjuring tricks.

This is the fourth book in the “Time Spies” series.