Like Magic

illus. by Sara Not. 272p. HarperCollins. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062414311.
Gr 4–6—A treasure box—and a dash of whimsy—unite three 10-year-old girls, each struggling to cope with changes in her family life. Homeschooled Malia frets over the impending birth of her first sibling. Shy Grace is anxious about speaking, especially since her best friend moved away. Jada longs for her mother, who abandoned the family to pursue an acting career. Without ever meeting one another, the girls develop a rapport by taking turns borrowing an ornate box from the public library, removing a personal "treasure" left by the previous user, and adding a new memento. Keeping the box circulating among the trio is an intuitive, possibly enchanted, elderly librarian who understands that what the girls need most is friendship. Debut novelist Vickers has created three appealing, diverse characters with distinct talents and voices; librarian Hazel is an affectionate spin on fairy-tale crones. The point of view changes with each chapter, providing insights into the girls' private aspirations and relationships with family members. Readers will be engaged by the near misses in which Malia, Grace, and Jada encounter one another but hesitate to introduce themselves, leading to an emotionally satisfying first meeting at the novel's climax.
VERDICT Just right for sensitive tweens, this is a sweet story of friendship and learning to cope with common fears and life changes.

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