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THE ROPE TRICK by Lloyd Alexander Kirkus Star


by Lloyd Alexander

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-525-47020-4
Publisher: Dutton

It’s wonderful to be in the thrall of a master storyteller once more, as Alexander (The Gawgon and the Boy, 2001, etc.) spins this full-hearted tale of magic, illusion, and love. Lidi is a magician; she understands that her power comes from knowing that her audiences want to believe. She travels with Jericho, who tends the wagons as he had for her father. One night in one of the endless towns in Campania—a place very like medieval Italy—she rescues a small girl from an abusive innkeeper, and discovers Daniella can say what is true. People pay her for that, seeing in it their future. As they perform their shows, Alexander skillfully weaves the story of how it feels to create an audience and how to stoke it; he allows Daniella’s preternatural gift to foreshadow what is coming. Other stories follow as Lidi searches for the magician who can teach her the Rope Trick, which her father swore she could never learn. The fugitive Julian, with ghosts behind his eyes, awakens Lidi’s affections; another itinerant magician, Pompadoro and his dancing pigs, may know the whereabouts of the Rope Trick master; finally, the rescue of a wronged widow leads to a thrilling dénouement where character and illusion burst into a kaleidoscopic finale. The characters speak with undissembling directness and have the Italian gift for enfolding a kernel of wisdom in the language of the everyday. It is no illusion that this is a magical read. (Fiction. 8-12)