From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-Xandra Hobson likes to escape from her family, where she feels like a complete failure in the company of geniuses, and to embark on imaginary adventures involving magic. One day, while in the woods, she encounters real magic when she rescues a bird from some hunters; the next day, it is gone, leaving a feather in its place. A classmate, Belinda, sees it and realizes that it is a key to the unseen world and that with it, Xandra can enter a reality no one else can see. The girls become friends as Belinda and her grandfather attempt to explain the mystical world of the unseen to her. Xandra is terrified by the horrible creatures that surround her and the physical wounds that they inflict on her, unaware that they are of her own making and fed by her anger and hostility. When she breaks her ankle and is stranded in the woods, her family comes to her rescue and she realizes that her siblings aren't perfect and that she is loved. This book is a wonderful ride into fantasy, with a lot of realistic touches to think about and relationships to ponder. Readers will see, even though Xandra does not, that her perceptions about her family are all wrong. They'll also see that being so wrapped up in yourself can cause you to miss what's right in front of you. This perceptive story is not to be missed.-Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ
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Gr. 5-8. Twelve-year-old Xandra Hobson feels like a changeling, growing up alienated in a large family of self-absorbed overachievers. Her parents are rarely home, her siblings seem intolerable, and her position in the seventh-grade pecking order makes her reluctant to be seen with the one girl who interests her, Belinda. In the opening chapter, Xandra saves the life of an injured egret, which leaves her a feather that she believes to be magical. When Xandra learns that the magic is real and that Belinda and her father understand its power, she befriends them but later unthinkingly betrays them. Snyder masterfully portrays Belinda's sensations and emotions in the alternate world she enters with the feather's aid, and she shows how the experience subtly changes the girl's later actions. The novel is too realistically written to let the betrayal of Belinda go without consequences, but neither does the author leave readers without hope. Though less convincing than the magical episodes, the family scenes at the end bring this well-grounded fantasy to a satisfying conclusion. Carolyn Phelan
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