When young Leon volunteers to take part in a magician's disappearing act, he is transported to a glittering limbo where all magical props--cards, coins, rabbits, a magician's assistant or an audience member like himself--wait before being summoned back with another wave of a hand or wand. Baker-Smith's moody, gold-filigreed digital pictures, which will remind many readers of the movie Coraline, conjure up the excitement of surrendering to suspended disbelief (die cuts and a gatefold add extra pizzazz to the spreads, although the story isn't significantly helped by their presence). Unfortunately, McAllister's writing does not take the story beyond its promising premise, and Leon's time in "the Place Between" is over almost before it starts. Additionally, the typography, which is set in tidy rectangles and modeled on theatrical posters, while stylistically consistent with the feel of the book, is a jumble of fonts and capitalizations. For readers, the magic is in the artwork. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)[Page 44]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Gr 1-4--A spectacular blend of fantasy and reality results in a whimsical wonderland. When Leon and his siblings visit a magic show, they view the jugglers' amazing athletic feats, the mechanical toys as they whiz and whirl, and the enchanted carousel's lulling tunes--until the imposing Abdul Kazam appears. With a twist of his cape and a gleam in his eye, the formidable magician calls Leon into his act, transporting him to the "place between." Baker-Smith utilizes dramatic foldouts to depict the glorious night scenes. Digital illustrations provide richness and depth; majestic purple backgrounds dominate, and swirling golden lines support the dynamic, fluid spreads. Balanced between shadow and light, expressive angular faces convey the audience's astonishment. McAllister's descriptive text provides powerful emphasis through taut dialogue; shifting font varies for added emphasis. Phrases build momentum to a natural crescendo as Leon shares with the others that his place between exists for "anyone who believes." The result is a magical delight for both skeptics and believers.--Meg Smith, Cumberland County Public Library, Fayetteville, NC[Page 128]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.