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The Rope Trick Hardcover – October 14, 2002

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 500L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; 1st edition (October 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525470204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525470205
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,179,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The undercurrent of melancholy running beneath (and occasionally bursting to the surface of) this fanciful tale makes it as memorable as Alexander's previous Chronicles of Prydain and Westmark trilogy. After the death of her bitter and unkind father, Lidi continues on with the family trade, roaming the towns of Campania (a fictional land resembling pre-unification Italy) performing magic tricks and sleight-of-hand. The author once again proves his gift for summing up a situation in a few potent phrases. For instance, when Lidi first began to outperform her father, he tried to hit her and tell her she's "best at nothing"; the narrative follows with, "She could dodge the blows but not the words." Lidi and her loyal canvasmaster, Jericho, are joined by Daniella, an orphan with a knack for predicting the future, and Julian, a handsome rebel with a price on his head. As her troupe travels, Lidi pursues her dream of learning the rope trick-the most legendary trick of all-from Ferramondo, an enigmatic magician who is described differently by each person who has met him. Meanwhile, as a delicately etched romance takes shape between Lidi and Julian, sinister forces conspire to thwart the happiness of the stalwart performers. Alexander deftly entwines many strands-bitter, funny and sweet. Even as the outsize characterizations and rollicking adventure amuse, the compassionate vision of life's possibilities is likely to bring a lump to the throat. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-7-Ever a wizard with words, Alexander imbues this tale of a young magician on a quest with whiffs of mystery-though he concludes with an abrupt bit of literary legerdemain that reads as if he ran out of steam. Impelled by the failures of her father, copper-tressed Lidi is determined to become the greatest of magicians, which means tracking down elusive master magician, Ferramondo, and persuading him to part with the secret of his fabled Rope Trick. The search takes Lidi, along with her hulking, fatherly roustabout Jericho; Daniella, a small child who seems to have a real ability to foretell the future; and Julian, a fugitive cafone (tenant farmer), wandering through several provinces of Italy, er, "Campania," before falling afoul of a ruthless moneylender, Scabbia. The author relates his tale economically (a blessing in these days of doorstopper fantasies), using short but telling sentences, keeping the cast's size relatively small, and drawing readers into his characters with deft hints of their thoughts and mental states. [...] Several seemingly miraculous transformations in the story's course seem to point toward further adventures, but it's hard to see what they might be after this summary resolution. Still, even a patchy tale from this master storyteller makes the general run of historical fantasy look clumsy.
John Peters, New York Public Library
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure.
It is, however, an interesting development and opens possible paths to a sequel; the various subplots are woven together like... well, like a rope.
E. A Solinas
The characters in this book were very realistic and intriguing.
C. holland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By P. S. Rouse on November 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I often wonder if the reviewers in literary periodicals actually read the books they are reviewing. If one does, you will find that Lloyd Alexander's The Rope Trick has a most interesting journey and fantastical ending yet of his books.
Lidi is a marvelous, strong willed heroine, not unlike many of his other famous female characters.. This time Mr Alexander has taken us on an intimate journey as Lidi searches for the secret of "the rope trick", an amazing feat of wonder she has heard so much about and must learn for herself.
Hopefully I am not ruining it for you when I say that this story blends many of the adventure elements you have come to know and love from the master himself.. and a new angle you might be surprised at.. and an ending you may love (or not). I loved the ending.. and I found it not abrupt at all but very pleasant.
Final words? A worthwhile read, a keeper and something you will want to gift to friends and loved ones. LA has definitely done it again! =)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Rope Trick" is both similar and different from many of Lloyd Alexander's previous works, and it seems first and foremost to be a study on the characters rather than a story. Not that that's a bad thing -- Alexander's plot is intriguing, fresh, and has plenty of lovable and complex people.
Lidi is an excellent magician, but there is one magic trick that she doesn't know: The fabled rope trick. She and her kindly mentor Jericho rescue a neglected orphan from an abusive innkeeper, and find that little Daniella can predict the future. No sooner have the two made her an "Added Attraction" (she predicted that too) than they encounter a young outlaw named Julian sleeping under their wagon. A scuffle with soldiers sends them on the run to another province.
There they bump into many different people who have encountered the strange magician Ferramondo, who is seen differently by every person. He also knows the rope trick. Lidi begins a desperate search for Ferramondo, convinced that she will not be a true magician until she does. But sinister men are trying to get hold of Daniella for their own gain, and Julian is seeking revenge against "Baboon," the man who killed his uncle and drove him to become an outlaw.
This book is somewhat different from most of Alexander's books. The protagonist is a young girl rather than a boy (even the Vesper Holly books were narrated by a man) with a sad past, and there are more serious, melancholy themes. Julian in particular is a break from Alexander's naive young heroes-in-training, who learn their lessons along the way. It's also full of more introspection, as Lidi often stops to contemplate herself and others. The love story between Lidi and Julian is handled with delicacy, and goes very gradually over the book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Let's get this straight - In his School Library Journal review of "The Rope Trick," that Amazon uses as a review of this book, John Peters gets nothing right, to the point that is makes me wonder whether he just flipped to the last few pages in order to mail in his review and collect a check.
This book is brilliant, a challenging work designed to tax the reading and comprehension levels of young teens. Besides giving away a major part of the ending, Peters badly misconstrues major themes in the work. This is a book about how we see God - in our own image, mostly - and how we each find our path to God. It is a major book for young teens that addresses issues such as causes of sectarian conflict as well as the individual's relationship to the Divine.
Read this book, and more importantly get your your young teenaged readers to read it, and then discuss it with them. You and they will not be disappointed. Ignore anything Peters writes - same result.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By livi on October 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Lloyd Alexander has done it again, The Rope Trick is really wonderful, filled with all the adventure and humor that has come to be expected from Alexander. The Rope Trick follows formula's that he has often used, those of the small group of companions and friends traveling together, the love interest, the greedy officials, etc. However,the book is unique in that it is written mainly from the point of view of the heroine. While his heroines have a reputation for being strong and smart, among other things, this is the first book in which there is a real insight into what they are thinking, reasoning, and feeling.
The book is intricately woven, with every scene and all aspects of the plot seemingly essential. The review above by School Library Jounal seems as though it were written after only a cursory glimpse at the book, as the ending is absolutely essential to the story, and is built up to throughout the book. Also, that review gives away the ending of the book, spoiling any surprise meant for the reader.
Anyhow, it's a great book, a very fast read though, so if you only like to read books once, get it from the library, but if you enjoy rereading favorite books, it's definitely worth buying!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kemie Nix on November 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Lidi's father, who bullied her and taught her to be a magician, prophesied that she would never learn the ultimate illusion, the rope trick. Inheriting his tents and wagons after his death, as well as the massive, kind canvasmaster, Jerico, Lidi embarks on a quest to find the one person from whom she can learn the rope trick, the magician, Ferramondo. Along the way, she collects Daniella, the small waif with an erratic prophetic power, and Julian, the large fugitive with a deeply scarred back and psyche.
Set in Campania, a country reminiscent of nineteenth-century Italy, the author not only creates memorable villains to chase Daniella and Julian and their beautiful guardian, he concocts an extremely eccentric and curious cast of characters -- including dancing pigs.
Alexander's taunt logic leads Lidi and company, not to mention expectant readers, where he has never led before. Those who are familiar with his other works will know that none of his main characters have ever gone "beyond the threads." Precious few authors possess the ability to go there. Readers will find the ending enigmatically comforting. This is one of a handful of books that I would recommend for children who might have to go "beyond the threads."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Few writers have inspired as much affection and interest among readers young and old as Lloyd Alexander. At one point, however, it seemed unlikely that he would ever be a writer at all. His parents could not afford to send him to college. And so when a Philadelphia bank had an opening for a messenger boy, he went to work there. Finally, having saved some money, he quit and went to a local college. Dissatisfied with not having learned enough to be a writer he left at the end of one term. Adventure, he decided was the best way. The United States had already entered World War II. Convinced that here was a chance for real deeds of derring-do, he joined the army -- and was promptly shipped to Texas where he became, in disheartening succession an artilleryman, a cymbal player in the band, an organist in the post chapel, and a first-aid man. At last, he was assigned to a military intelligence center in Maryland. There he trained as a member of a combat team to be parachuted into France to work with the Resistance. "This, to my intense relief, did not happen," says Alexander. Instead, Alexander and his group sailed to Wales to finish their training. This ancient, rough-hewn country, with its castles, mountains, and its own beautiful language made a tremendous impression on him. But not until years later did he realize he had been given a glimpse of another enchanted kingdom. Alexander was sent to Alsace-Lorraine, the Rhineland, and southern Germany. When the war ended, he was assigned to a counterintelligence unit in Paris. Later he was discharged to attend the University of Paris. While a student he met a beautiful Parisian girl, Janine, and they soon married. Life abroad was fascinating, but eventually Alexander longed for home. The young couple went back to Drexel Hill, near Philadelphia, where Alexander wrote novel after novel which publishers unhesitatingly turned down. To earn his living, he worked as a cartoonist, advertising writer, layout artist, and associate editor for a small magazine. It took seven years of constant rejection before his first novel was at last published. During the next ten years, he wrote for adults. And then he began writing for young people.Doing historical research for Time Cat he discovered material on Welsh mythology. The result was The Book of Three and the other chronicles of Prydain, the imaginary kingdom being something like the enchanted land of Wales. In The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen Alexander explored yet another fantastic world. Evoking an atmosphere of ancient China, this unique multi-layered novel was critically acclaimed as one of his finest works. Trina Schart Hyman illustrated The Fortune-tellers as a Cameroonian folktale sparkling with vibrant images, keen insight and delicious wit. Most of the books have been written in the form of fantasy. But fantasy, Alexander believes, is merely one of many ways to express attitudes and feelings about real people, real human relationships and problems

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