A young magician learns that it is better to have the crowd in his pocket than any number of competition trophies on the mantle.
Alex Eisen is failing school, finding it so hard to read he uses a ruler to help track the words; his disdainful surgeon father doesn’t give a fig about—indeed, discourages—Alex’s passion for stage magic. But there is a new kid in school, Zoe O’Neill, who is also into magic. He is attracted—and competitive. He has an opportunity to work with Zoe under the tutelage of mysterious and sagacious magician great Jack Spader—the Jack of Spades—but Alex tries to sabotage the team in order to impress Jack. Jack eventually gets the two in sync, especially after a preparatory gig in a children’s hospital, where Alex comes to appreciate it is better to entertain than impress any competition judge. (Alex’s father, who conducts his surgery there, also learns a thing or two.) All gets neatly tied up at the end: Zoe and Alex connect, the magic dazzles, Alex tackles schooling like an old pro simply by applying himself. None of this will particularly surprise readers, because Thomas broadcasts her intentions so clearly throughout.
Even the novice magician knows that broadcasting will take the wind out of any magic routine, and since a “good routine tells a story,” so too with this book. (Fiction. 11-14)