Eleven-year-old Jake and 6-year-old Simon, Canadian brothers, acquire three magic objects that enable them to help themselves and several other people.
Almost immediately after their arrival in London, England, with their mother, Rachel, a sidewalk magician gives the boys a magic camera, stopwatch, and “oriental” carpet. Only Simon believes in the objects’ magic, but soon after the family arrives at the home of Rachel’s sister and her husband and daughter, Hannah, the boys find themselves touring London via flying carpet. Facts about the city entwine seamlessly with a cinematic text. Jake begins privately plotting illegal ways to return his family to Canada while his dad is away. When the carpet becomes waterlogged, Hannah joins the boys in exploring by bike and using the other magic objects. Although set in a time contemporary enough to have their antics posted on YouTube, this fantasy, with its cast of resourceful, Anglo-Saxon children, loving but often clueless adults, and lighthearted, chaotic adventures, is reminiscent of the novels of E. Nesbit and Edward Eager. There are brief, serious switches in tone when Jake expresses anger about the poverty gap and when readers learn that Jake’s father is in prison—although not why. Most of the text is humorous, with endearing characters (including the queen of England), madcap adventures, and happy endings—plus an opening for a sequel starring Hannah.
A satisfying, old-fashioned–feeling magical adventure. (Fantasy. 7-11)