I know it’s mid-week and usually I share middle grade reads on weekends, but the year is coming to an end, and I have a wonderful middle grade read to share, just in time for gift giving. The Rosemary Spell from Virginia Zimmerman combines a mystery, magic, adventure and literary critique and explanations into a captivating story, sure to draw in readers.
A poetry project from a school English class and an aging poet suffering from Alzheimer’s are the jumping off points for this story. Rosemary (Rosie), Adam and his sister Michelle (Shelby) are best friends, always sharing and hanging out. Michelle is abandoning her ‘childish’ nickname of Shelby, four years older than her brother and Rosie, she’s moving on and perhaps forgetting them and their good times.
A new house brings many surprises, and Rosie finds an old journal in her new room, a house that used to belong to Constance, a poet now living in a care home. She and Adam are fairly certain the book was Constance’s, but it just might have belonged to Shakespeare himself, and the writing appears and disappears without apparent reason.
Mixing some wholly poetic musings, a touch of sadness and some wonderfully apt quotes that are about reading, literature and some specific works, Adam and Rosie soon discover the dangers contained in the book, how memories are easily erased and left behind, and just what they must do to keep Shelby in their lives.
More a thoughtful and multi-layered story, ostensibly a magical-tinged adventure, the story unfolds with great care. Rosie and Adam are thoughtful and clever characters who clearly embrace compassion, loyalty, friendship and curiosity with arms wide open. While the magical worlds appear and shift or disappear with surprising results, the spell these stories contained threaten memories and more.
Zimmerman uses several literary references, bringing critique and careful exposition of storylines, titles and names to the forefront, with easy to understand points and hints to reading for scholarly purpose as well as for pleasure. Each paragraph (or so it seemed) was yet another piece of the puzzle to this story as the edges were quickly built and the center slowly took form, each moment adding to the plot and direction. A wonderful read for those grade 5 – 7’s (or older) who enjoy a story that will work on many levels, and a wonderful read for older children and adults as well.
Title: The Rosemary Spell
Author: Virginia Zimmerman
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Magical Realism
Published by: Clarion Books
Published on: 1 December 2015
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
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Part mystery, part literary puzzle, part life-and-death quest, and chillingly magical, this novel has plenty of suspense for adventure fans and is a treat for readers who love books, words, and clues.
Best friends Rosie and Adam find an old book with blank pages that fill with handwriting before their eyes. Something about this magical book has the power to make people vanish, even from memory.
The power lies in a poem—a spell. When Adam's older sister, Shelby, disappears, they struggle to retain their memories of her as they race against time to bring her back from the void, risking their own lives in the process.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.