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MUCK & MAGIC by Michael Morpurgo


by Michael Morpurgo ; illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5362-1288-4
Publisher: Candlewick

A recollection of a pivotal turn in the road of life.

In thoughtful, measured tones, the story’s narrator, an English girl named Bonny, now “well over thirty,” reminisces about a time in her life when her ambition was to be an Olympic medal–winning bicyclist. Receiving a racing bike for her 12th birthday, Bonny heads out for a ride in the Dales. Distracted by three horses cavorting in a field, Bonny falls. Recovering, she examines her slightly injured knee and laments over her flat tire, then sees the three horses gazing at her over the stone wall. Bonny is smitten. From then on, she plans her training rides to pass the horses’ field and begins to bring them carrots. Eventually, she meets their owner, a woman sculptor (apparently based on the British sculptor Elisabeth Frink, to whom the book is dedicated) who offers her a job mucking out the horses’ stalls—and Bonny’s straight-focus road to being a competitive cyclist takes a turn. Thoughtful and validating, the story embraces the idea of change and doing what you love. The refreshing illustrations combine full-color paintings of the Dales with sidebar black-and-white studies of animals, reminiscent of an artist’s sketchbook. In addition to livening up the small, squarish trim size of the book, the illustrative style also mirrors and enhances the storyline of the artist/sculptor who is so formative to Bonny’s path in life. The cast is assumed White.

A thoughtfully told, refreshingly illustrated story.

(Historical fiction. 10-14)