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So You Want to Be a Wizard Paperback – October 1, 2003

Book 1 of 9 in the Young Wizards Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Ages 10 & up. In the spirit of Madeleine L'Engle's classic A Wrinkle in Time, this is a fascinating and powerfully involving story about two lonely kids who are inadvertently caught up in the never-ending battle between good and evil. The problems of everyday adolescent life and the mysteries of magic are perfectly blended, along with plenty of humor and suspense. In a starred review, School Library Journal wrote, "well-structured and believable... this fantasy should have wide appeal." Horn Book wrote, "a splendid, unusual fantasy... an outstanding, original work." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

As two young wizards embark on a mission to preserve the universe they encounter an eerie version of Manhattan. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Sandpiper; Dgs edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152049401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152049409
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (237 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #687,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Diane Duane was born in New York City -- a descendant of New York's first mayor -- and worked there as a psychiatric nurse before leaving the profession for the only one she loved better, the business of writing. Since the publication of her first novel in 1981, she's written fifty more, not to mention numerous short stories, comics, computer games and screenplays for TV and film, and has picked up the occasional award here and there. (She's also worked with Star Trek in more media than anyone else alive.)

Right now DD is probably best known for her "Young Wizards" series of young adult fantasy novels, featuring the New York-based teen wizards Kit Rodriguez and Nita Callahan. The series now enters its third decade with Nita's and Kit's newest adventure: "Games Wizards Play," the tenth Young Wizards novel, is scheduled for publication by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in winter 2015/16. Interested readers can find weekly teaser excerpts from the book at the blog at

DD shares a two hundred-year-old cottage in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland with her husband, the Belfast-born novelist and screenwriter Peter Morwood, and various overworked computers... an odd but congenial environment for the staging of epic battles between good and evil and the leisurely pursuit of total galactic domination. (And a lot of ethnic cooking: her own favorite foods come from the cuisines of central Europe and the Mediterranean.) In her spare time DD gardens (weeding, mostly), studies German and Italian, chats with friends and fans on her Tumblr at, listens to shortwave and satellite radio, and dabbles in astronomy, computer graphics, iaido and amateur cartography... while also trying to figure out how to make more spare time.

Her favorite color is blue, her favorite food is a weird kind of Swiss scrambled-potato dish called maluns, she was born in a Year of the Dragon, and her sign is "Runway 24 Left, Hold For Clearance."

Customer Reviews

I really liked this book because the events in the story are very interesting.
I would recommend this to anyone with children that enjoy fantasy novels, as well as adults of course.
Aubri Webb
I really enjoyed this book, because all the characters and their magic seemed so real to me.
M. Cookson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

203 of 213 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
"So You Want To Be A Wizard" is the beginning of an exciting and tantalizing series where wizardry and life in the city are a little too close for comfort. Nita, an intelligent but physically unendowed 13-year-old, finds refuge in the kid's section of the library after a particularly bad beating by a group of school bullies - and finds a book that not only tells her that there *is* magic but how to get it, why to get it, and how to use it.
Kit, a 12-year-old Hispanic boy with school troubles similar to hers, teams up with her in a wizardly Ordeal to gain their powers. Shifted "sideways" into an alternate Manhattan, they discover both their wizardly talents and find friends in each other.
I originally read first High Wizardry (the last books in the series), then Deep Wizardry (the second book) and then this, before going on to A Wizard Abroad. I also enjoyed her Feline Wizards series, of which only two books are in print so far. However, other YA readers may not: they are on an adult reading level and you need to appreciate this.
I also recommend other books (most of these are fantasy) by Patricia Wrede (her Dragons series, "Dealing with Dragons", "Talking with Dragons", etc), the Unicorn series by Tamora Pierce ("Black Unicorn", "Red Unicorn"), the "Hero and the Crown" and "The Blue Sword" by Robin McKinley.
All of these books, including (especially!) So You Want To Be A Wizard have strong female protagonists. I am, after all, a 13-year-old girl and really dislike the knight-in-shining-armour- rescues-the-damsel-in-distress stuff.
I believe you will really enjoy So You Want to Be A Wizard. Either buy it here or ask for it at a library. Interlibrary Loan works really well!
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82 of 84 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Diane Duane, a great science-fiction writer and author of many Star Trek books, writes an original and special tale of magic and wizardry, which seems less like magic than like magical science. Because of the eerie scenery, this may not appeal to some Harry Potter-type readers.
Nita is a very ordinary kid who is constantly kicked around by the snobby local bullies. To escape them, she heads for the library, and finds a book called "So You Want To Be a Wizard." Thinking it's a joke, Nita checks out the book and goes home to read it. Within days, she's and her new friend Kit are both wizards, and off on a genuinely frightening adventure, to where trees tell stories and cars rove like packs of wolves.
Perhaps the best character is a tiny white hole nicknamed Fred. The funniest scene in the book is when he gets the hiccups...
Manhatten never seemed to be appealing until I read this book, where it hides an alternate world that cannot be described in one of these reviews. Also hidden away is a demonic villain whose evil is not evident when you first see him. Fred's description of him--"starsnuffer"--sounds a bit silly, but it's accurate.
Perhaps the best aspect of this book is that the wizards in it are not simply wizards because they can and because they want to be. The wizards have an integral part in keeping the universe ticking, responsibilities, and pressure to keep doing so. They don't do it for power--they do it because they are good people. This different view is an integral part of the book, that makes it stand apart from much of the kid's fantasy out there.
This book cannot be fully absorbed in one sitting--take the time to savor it, and be sure to reread it. It's that good!
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By ian on January 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
First of all, I find it interesting that another Tulsan wrote about this book, and that I decided to review it so soon after. In my experience, Tulsa is not fertile ground for fantasy-lovers. It was a nice surprise.
But anyway...The book. This book heads up a wonderful series that I would recommend to anyone who even remotely likes magic or science. The characters provide deligthful and strong role models for young people. I know I admired them when I first read it at age twelve (I'm now nineteen). I also find Fred to be one of the most endearing characters in all fantasy. (He possesses the same attractive humor as Sunspark in THE DOOR INTO FIRE, which I would strongely suggest to any Duane fan. It's--sadly--out of print, so check your local used bookstore). Another strength of this book is it's sense of place--it is the first book I ever read that really made me want to visit New York.
The only warning I would give would be for younger readers. I found the very beginning a little heavy, what with all the science-talk. Just keep going--it's well worth the trouble. Also, make sure to read the next two books. They're wonderful as well. In fact, I'm probably going to write glowing reviews for them as well.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Rifka Elisa on October 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have read almost every fantasy and sci-fi book that I can find and this was one of the best. It's about a girl named Nita (Juanita) who's having a hard time at school and takes refuge in the library to avoid getting clobbered. There she finds a book titled 'so you want to be a wizard' that tells her about her potential to be a one. She thinks it's all a joke but she reads it anyway. Nita, a hispanic boy named Kit, and a white hole named Fred that they picked up try to open a world gate to get Nita's pen back and have their plans go horribly wrong. Flung into a different dimension for fiddling with the world gate they have to battle the Lone Power and his oddly deranged machines to escape. I'm in 7th grade and I have lent this book to all my friends and even the ones who don't like to read love it. If you like fantasy and/or science fiction then this is definetly the book to read.
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