RED WIZARD by Nancy Springer


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In the author's first fantasy for young people (she wrote the sensitive, realistic Not on a White Horse, 1988), a wizard noted for ""the serendipitous nature of his incompetence"" accidentally transports 12-year-old Ryan to his magical world while trying to summon the perfect red. Ryan has taken a new red crayon out of its box just as Persyvaunce is casting one of his haphazard spells--he has sinoper, minium, cinnabar, kermes, madder, murrey, and lac, but ""there's not a true oxblood red among them."" Persyvaunce is as surprised as Ryan when he captures the boy as well as the crayon. It is not, however, a random mistake: the otherworld counterparts of Ryan and his father need his help to sort out their ambitions and tensions. In the process, Ryan helps Persyvaunce find the true rule of colors, enabling Persyvaunce to send Ryan home, ready to cope with the demands of his real-world father. Springer's storytelling gift and sparkling use of language, familiar to readers of her adult fantasy, serve her well. Ryan and Pursyvaunce are engaging, rounded creations; unfortunately, Ryan's father is a stock character, but, still, there's a lot of fun and some beauty in the words and symbolism here. Well above average.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1990
Page count: 138pp
Publisher: Atheneum