The magic is largely in abeyance in this enjoyable sequel to The Magic Stone (1978). Chris, who discovered both the stone and his own magic powers in the previous volume, is forbidden to use either until he has learned the art from Jenna, a tough old witch who has taken him into her woodland cottage as a summer apprentice. Instead of more magic, then, we begin with non-gifted Alec, staying nearby with his grandfather, and the ancient book Grandfather removed from a cupboard on page one. In the first few pages we meet the book, which promises to be magical and will tease at both boys, and at readers, through the story. Also in the first few pages, Chris and Alec have been brought together and both their viewpoints established, and Alec has come out with a nice offhand distinction between city and country living. Interest never lags as Chris and Alee explore a vacant ""castle"" and meet William, the young man who has inherited it from a barmy old uncle; as William and his friends search for the invaluable coin collection the uncle has hidden somewhere about; and as Chris and Alec on their part, and Jenna on hers (she is jealous of Chris' superior talents), plot separately to find the treasure first. All Chris, who can perhaps command the elements, wants from the adventure is a new bicycle as a reward from William--an example of Kooiker's consistent winning sense of the child's approach to both wondrous and everyday matters.