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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary Magic -- Extraordinarily Written
I'm not going to summarize Any Which Wall for you. I'm not going to describe the character arcs or unfold exactly how the plot turns. That would be something akin to handling the wings of a butterfly -- and steal some of the magic from this beautiful, timeless book.

I will tell you this: The second I opened Any Which Wall I felt dropped into a special kind of...
Published on June 1, 2009 by Mr. Stephen A. Bramucci

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
This book is sort of a tribute to Edward Eager's delightful "Half Magic" (which I recommend, by the way). Four children discover a magic wall which dispels their summer boredom, and, of course, they learns some lessons along the way. It's not as original as Half Magic (because, as the author will admit, she stole ideas from it), but it's lots of fun and kids will enjoy...
Published on April 13, 2011 by aliceknd


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary Magic -- Extraordinarily Written, June 1, 2009
This review is from: Any Which Wall (Hardcover)
I'm not going to summarize Any Which Wall for you. I'm not going to describe the character arcs or unfold exactly how the plot turns. That would be something akin to handling the wings of a butterfly -- and steal some of the magic from this beautiful, timeless book.

I will tell you this: The second I opened Any Which Wall I felt dropped into a special kind of story. I knew on page one that the book held something incredible. It is the type of book that kids read on long summer afternoons with a foot dangling down from the eaves of an oak tree while drinking lemonade from a mason jar.

It is engaging and incredibly clearly rendered.

The world doesn't hang in the balance, there are no evil necromancers, no superpowers...But that doesn't mean that the book can't zip along. It does.

It is the type of middle-grade book that I hope stays in print for a hundred years-- the type Edward Eager wrote. And it holds magic-- transporting me to the basement of my grandmother's house by the sea-- where I would curl up at night as a boy discovering a love of storytelling. Where the shelves seemed endlessly stocked with the books that my mother, aunts and uncles read when they were young. Books with pen and ink illustrations, tales of adventure and heart...Books like this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that you wish wouldn't end, June 5, 2009
This review is from: Any Which Wall (Hardcover)
Any Which Wall is the type of book that is worth sitting down and reviewing on Amazon. It's the type of book that is worth paying to read it, and not just waiting for it to come out at the library. It's the type of book that you want to keep on your shelf for bad days when you need to curl up in bed and be transported to a corn field in Iowa.

Any Which Wall is magical -- not just in its content but in its writing. It's lovely and sweet, and most of all smart. While intended for kids, it's equally perfect for adults. Go on and buy it, you won't be sorry you did!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful tale of magic in the everyday world, July 9, 2009
By 
Sheila L. Beaumont (South Pasadena, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Any Which Wall (Hardcover)
Prefaced by a quotation from Edward Eager's "Seven Day Magic," this delightful tale of "common magic" is a homage to that popular children's author of the 1950s and early '60s, who wrote "Half Magic," "Knight's Castle" and other fun stories of children finding magic in the everyday world. It's also, indirectly, a homage to early-20th-century author E. Nesbit, since Eager's own books were a homage to Nesbit, who gave us such entertaining tales as "Five Children and It" and "The Phoenix and the Carpet."

In "Any Which Wall," four children, ages 6 to 12, by keeping their eyes and imaginations open, discover a magic wall on a summer's day in an Iowa cornfield. They find out the wall will take them to other places and times, and once they figure out exactly how the magic works, it takes them to the real Camelot, where they meet Merlin, who is not what they expected. On a visit to a pioneer-day version of their own town, Quiet Falls, the children rescue an abused dog, bring her back home, bathe her and treat her injuries, and eventually find the big, lovable canine a good home in an unexpected place (and time).

There's even a hint of Narnia here, in the name of the oldest child, Susan. Fortunately, this Susan, though she is growing up, does a better job of holding on to her childhood interests than the Narnia Susan does. And we meet a wonderful librarian, named Lily, who is grown up in the practical ways that are necessary yet keeps enough of her childhood to be a kindred spirit to the children.

Adding to the magic are the excellent illustrations of LeUyen Pham. I think "Any Which Wall" will appeal both to fans of fantasy and to readers who enjoy stories about ordinary kids. And it's not just for middle-graders but also for adults who have fond memories of the books of Edward Eager and E. Nesbit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Common Magic... Uncommonly Magical, December 29, 2009
By 
This review is from: Any Which Wall (Hardcover)
In Laurel Snyder's second middle-grade novel, Any Which Wall, long-time friends Henry, Roy, Susan and Emma are out of school for the summer and bored, bored, bored in their sleepy little town, until, hidden in an Iowa cornfield, they discover a mysterious wall--and an even more mysterious key.

"They pedaled forward slowly, and in a few minutes, the tall dark thing became a bigger dark thing. Finally it turned into a wall made of gray and black stones, heavy rough squares, each about the size of a large suitcase. As tall as City Hall and about that wide, the wall looked precarious, tilting toward them" (page 19).
Together, the two sets of siblings realize the wall is more than mysterious--it's magical. It can take them to any place, at any time. They soon find themselves traveling far and wide, having adventures and learning that magic just might look a little different than they thought.

Written as a tribute to Edgar Eager and E. Nesbit this Junior Library Guild Selection by master storyteller, Laurel Snyder is lyrical, nostalgic, classic and timeless. Told by a fun and spunky narrator and peppered with delightful illustrations by LeUyen Pham, Any Which Wall veritably begs to be read aloud.

Fun, fast-paced and fantastical with characters to love. These kids aren't singlehandedly battling evil. They don't hold the world's fate in their hands. They're regular kids who remember what friendship is about and who create a little magic of their own. They remind the reader to slow down, to enjoy life's ordinariness and to always, always, keep their eyes and imagination open. Magic still happens. A valuable lesson indeed.

From the Christian Library Journal; used by permission.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book, August 29, 2009
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Any Which Wall (Hardcover)
It was a very good book. Much like Half-Magic. Except the storyline was a bit more descriptive. I recommend this book to everyone who can't find a little magic in their lives. This book was a book that I couldn't put down. I was bored one day then my mother recommended it to me and I read it in about 7 hours. I almost got in trouble because I wouldn't get up off the sofa. If you need an exciting book that has every kind of adventure in it, just read Any Which Wall.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, April 13, 2011
By 
aliceknd (Gilbert, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Any Which Wall (Paperback)
This book is sort of a tribute to Edward Eager's delightful "Half Magic" (which I recommend, by the way). Four children discover a magic wall which dispels their summer boredom, and, of course, they learns some lessons along the way. It's not as original as Half Magic (because, as the author will admit, she stole ideas from it), but it's lots of fun and kids will enjoy it. I appreciate books like this that entertain without using bad language or crude behavior, and have plenty of adventure and excitement, but no violence.

Age Recommendation: 7 - 12 years (great for read-aloud)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary things can happen to an ordinary person, August 14, 2009
This review is from: Any Which Wall (Hardcover)
Author Laurel Snyder has witnessed her share of corn fields. For a time she lived in Iowa, surrounded by plenty of corn. After all, Iowa does produce the largest corn crop every year. In her middle grade book, Any Which Wall, four curious, school-aged children from fictional Quiet Falls, Iowa, pedal their bikes to nowhere in particular and end up exploring a cornfield. In the middle of the cornfield they discover a large, "precarious" stone wall. Soon they realize that the wall isn't ordinary; in fact, the wall is magical. It has the power to take the kids most anywhere they wish - any time, any place. They visit interesting and dangerous places, like a pirate's home, a pioneer settlement and Camelot, where they meet the wizard Merlin. Along the way, the children (two sets of siblings: Emma and Henry & Roy and Susan) find that magic exists even in the commonest of places. They also learn that growing up does not mean having to let go of your imagination.

Any Which Wall is a creative, imaginative summertime children's book. Because of the setting, I'd especially recommend it to children living in the Midwest, though children living anywhere will appreciate the adventure. Snyder wrote Any Which Wall as kind of a tribute to Edward Eager but readers do not need to be familiar with Eager's works to enjoy Any Which Wall. Anyone with an interest in magical fantasies (Harry Potter and the like), unicorns and time travel will find something to love about Snyder's book. She lures readers into the story with a short note on common magic, the kind of magic that takes place every day, the kind you'd miss if you weren't looking for it. She convinces readers that extraordinary things can happen to an ordinary person. (Yes, watching fireflies blink in unison is magical.) For those concerned about such matters, the beginning of the book does depict the children performing a "fun" sacrificial ceremony to the spirits of the field. It plays such a minor part in the mostly innocent book, a book that mentions creating music using a blade of grass and includes several light-hearted messages including "you have to be careful of strangers and of cake, even the kind that comes from nice librarians." The black and white illustrations drawn by LeUyen Pham show some of the unusual situations the children encounter. As a bonus, Snyder has included a secret message somewhere in the book for curious children to find. (Review copy provided by publisher)
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh for Mediocre, September 22, 2009
This review is from: Any Which Wall (Hardcover)
This is a juvenile fantasy novel about two sets of siblings, Henry and Emma O'Dell (ages nine and six), and Roy and Susan Levy (ages nine and eleven), who are next door neighbors in Quiet Falls, Iowa. Although one is quiet and bookish and the other athletic and impulsive, the two boys are best friends, while Emma is sweetly childish. Susan, who has been scorning juvenile pursuits, has been asked to keep her eye on all three all summer, as both sets of parents are conveniently unavailable most of the time.

The children's adventures begin when they discover an ancient stone wall at the end of a dirt road in the middle of some cornfields. A lucky accident and a bit of experimentation reveal that the wall, when activated with a key, can transport anyone who is touching it to any other wall, in any time or place.

Sounds promising, doesn't it? And yet, I'd steer fantasy enthusiasts to the works of Edith Nesbit or Edward Eager before I'd recommend this book. It's not terrible, by any means, it's just strangely uneven.

On the positive side, the children's characters are passably well developed, their escapades are interesting, and the omniscient narrator has good insights into the nature of magic and the value of fun.

The big negative for me is how the book's tone fluctuates. While it's frequently lighthearted and funny, once it is eerily creepy, and at least twice loathsomely realistic---almost to the point of being stomach churning.

In the first adventure, Emma wants to see Merlin's castle, and is disappointed when she discovers that the great wizard is a filthy old man with three teeth and a horrible cough who picks his nose and wipes his finger on his sleeve (yes, this is one of the repellent scenes). Guinevere, meanwhile, is spotlessly clean, beautiful, gorgeously dressed, and inexplicably psychotic (the aforementioned creepy scene). She tearlessly cries while admiring herself in a mirror, rips the wings from butterflies to color her face with their powdery scales, and sends the guards after Emma when she won't play with her.

It's a weird and unpleasant adventure, and I was steeling myself for more of the same, but the second adventure, a visit to the worst pirate in the world, is strongly reminiscent of Eager, and is rather fun.

The third adventure goes back to ickyville, as the kids rescue an abused dog from a wanted outlaw in a small prairie town. The author describes (in loving detail) how Susan cleanses the pus and filth from the dog's wounded leg before disappearing to vomit.

The nasty scenes, though relatively brief, are so jarring when compared to the rest of the book that I wonder what the author was thinking when she wrote them.

The fourth adventure is ordinary fun. While Susan experiences an emotional epiphany that is probably too insightful for a child of eleven, it's a good chapter for girls on the brink of adolescence, because Susan describes how she lost her sense of self while befriending a popular age mate.

The story concludes by practically announcing that There Will Be A Sequel, but this book so oddly wavered between foul reality and pleasant fantasy that I don't plan to seek it out.

Final score: Meh for mediocre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Litland.com loves Any Which Wall!, May 26, 2010
By 
This review is from: Any Which Wall (Paperback)
"Is it a boy's book or a girl's book?", I wonder. Neither...it is a fun book! And even the book tells us "...fun does matter. It matters a lot." So next I wonder why this book is fun. Why is it different from the numerous adventure stories in the bookstore today?

I've decided because it is true, sincere and pure fun. It is not the facade of fun had at the expense of the dignity of the characters or the reader. It's the real thing. Without being "preachy" in any way, the author has taken us into a series of adventures but did so through the minds and hearts of these four main characters. Along the way, there are important life lessons learned, starting with the children realizing that adventures in their imagination are very different, and much safer, than adventures in real life. This causes them to value themselves and others a bit more; recognize with gratefulness the strengths of their friends, siblings and parents; and through it all comes a connection to self.

But don't think it's too serious to be interesting! You'll enjoy this book. Read our criteria review at [...]
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magic among the Corn Rows, September 5, 2009
By 
Kurtis Scaletta (Minneapolis, MN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Any Which Wall (Hardcover)
I can't help but wonder if, on the other side of the wishing wall at the heart of this story, is Ray Kinsella's baseball diamond? For the magical source of both tales lie hidden among the corn fields of Iowa, making me wonder what else they hide.... In any case, this is a very enjoyable yarn that feels like a classic. Snyder's whimsical storytelling style, the comical adventures of the children, and the ordinary magic they discover reminds me of books I loved as a child.
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Any Which Wall
Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder (Paperback - May 25, 2010)
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