In this debut urban fantasy, a retired professor teaches a pair of young twins about everyday magic.
Nicholas and Gabriella Chase are 9-year-old twins living in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Queens. The children possess unsinkable spirits despite frequent arguments between their parents, Eddie and Jacqueline. Eddie returned from combat in Afghanistan five years ago and suffers from PTSD. Luckily George Thomas, a retired professor who lives in their building, has eased into the role of grandfather to the twins. On their last day of third grade, George walks them to school and tells them to take slow, deep breaths. Doing so brings “a level of peace that they have seldom experienced before.” After school, the trio ambles through the neighborhood, visiting Ali, the fruit seller, and Sal’s restaurant. They also sit on a bench and discuss the themes of kindness and magic, and George reveals that “when people share their open hearts, magic does happen in the simplest way, that powerfully connects us all.” Later, while the children visit the Evergreen Boutique, George stops into the Starlight Gift Shop for a few special items. At home, the twins surprise Jacqueline with roses, and George has an odd encounter before drifting off to sleep. In this sincere novel, DeVenuto presents an all-ages tale to illustrate the benefits of meditation and the healing powers of nature. A lone oak tree in the cement yard of the family's building becomes a talisman for the twins’ burgeoning magical abilities. They aren’t wholly naïve, however, as when Gabriella questions the simplicity of loving with “heart energy” and asserts: “I don’t think it is simple for everyone George, otherwise we would have a more peaceful world.” While DeVenuto’s worthy messages flow from the narrative, a strong editor would have helped with numerous punctuation gaffes, including Nicholas’ statement that “Gabby...you sound just like Mom right now, I’ll see you in a few, and lets out a big yawn.” Still, this book makes an honest plea for readers to immerse themselves in nature and expand their imaginations.
A heartfelt tale filled with the natural magic that everyone is born to wield.