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July 24, 2020

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay ~ a Review

by MK French


Abi and her stepbrothers Max and Louis see strange things when they’re left alone in the house. Abi tumbles into books, Louis can summon a creature through his window, and Max sees shapes in the shadows. None of this is noticed by their busy parents, and Louis’ visitor is growing harder to keep a secret. He needs help from Max and Abi to learn about the visitor and send it away.
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Time of Green Magic cover
July 2020; Margaret K. McElderry Books
audio, print, ebook (240 pages); children's
The Time of Green Magic
 is a middle-grade book but drew me into the story as if it was meant for adults as well. Who wouldn't want to be caught in the middle of a good book, after all? We begin with the difficulties inherent in blending families and making finances work, a very real problem all adults and even children would understand. The magic is most easily seen for Abi and Louis, the younger two of the three children in the house, and Max is occupied by his friendship gone awry and the crush he has. I feel for all of them because they each have problems they try to work through on their own. It's only once they all start working together that they can figure out what happened and how to fix it.

As with many middle-grade novels, it's up to the children to realize there's even a problem and then fix it. Their father Theo literally can't see the creature next to Louis even when it's right in front of him. He can see the claw marks and the damage done but attributes a normal reason for it to exist. He's busy with his job and the mother is out of the house for hers in order to allow three children to fix the problem on their own. They're not painted as negligent or ignoring the children in any way; they're good parents, caring for them as an adult would, and do the best that they can with the strained financial situation. I like that Theo sings to Louis and gives him baths, makes him laugh, and makes him feel safe. He reaches out to Max in a way that a teenager would accept, calming some of the roiling emotions that he has. And of course, he loves Abi and encourages her to continue with the things that she enjoys, such as reading. He's a caring and loving man, and often in children's books, such things are absent.

These are strong-minded children, and I adored all of them. I really enjoyed this book and happily handed it off to my middle-grade daughter to read as well. It's a wonderful book to share and read together.


Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever. 

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