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To Come and Go Like Magic Paperback – March 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Twelve-year-old Chili has a burning desire to see the world, but “People don’t leave Mercy Hill,” says her momma. She is the child of a poor, tight-knit Appalachian family, so this particular dream seems even more unlikely to come true. Then Miss Matlock, the new substitute teacher and a well-traveled former daughter of Mercy Hill, enters her life. She encourages Chili’s wanderlust with books, souvenirs, and stories from far-off places while pushing her academically. But Chili’s mentor has earned the disdain of the townsfolk for turning her back on them. Brief slice-of-life vignettes piece together the puzzle of Miss Matlock’s past, slowly reveal Mercy Hill’s history, and showcase Chili’s struggle with growing up. Fawcett’s debut novel displays great promise. The frank prose is laced with wistful longing even while exploring heady themes like gender, class, love, and loyalty. Reluctant readers will find an engaging, lyrical story that excites their sense of wonder, and discover that though they may venture forth, home will never be far away. Grades 5-8. --Courtney Jones --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

KATIE PICKARD FAWCETT grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky and spent two years as a social worker in Appalachia. She has counseled and tutored students in the Washington, D.C. area, written ads for Peace Corps and VISTA, and worked for the World Bank writing about development projects in Third World countries. Her personal essays have been published in several magazines, and her favorite diversion is travel and the different cultural experiences it brings. She lives with her husband and son in McLean, Virginia.  Visit her on the Web at

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375851305
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375851308
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,508,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Katie Pickard Fawcett grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. She has been a social worker in Appalachia, tutored middle and high school students in Virginia, and been an international civil servant and freelance writer. To Come and Go Like Magic has been named a Parent's Choice Recommended Book, listed by the Bank Street Children's Book Committee as one of the best books of the year (with a star for outstanding merit), featured in Weekly Reader's READ magazine, selected for Battle of the Books 2012 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and recently won the Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Award for best book of 2011. Please check out the author's site at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Portianay VINE VOICE on March 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, for upper-elementary/tween readers. The dialogue, the pace, the events, all ring very true, and have the note of authenticity to them. The story takes place in the Appalachia of the seventies, and deals with not only the familiar coming-of-age angst which awaits all tweens, but does it in the unique setting of these eastern mountains of Kentucky. The faithful attention to detail (residents' feelings about VISTA; attitudes toward welfare recipients; matters of class, education, poverty, and wealth) holds the reader's attention, but the main event, to me, seems to be the theme of forgiveness. This one thread ties together the story lines of Myra, the unwed (?) mother; Miss Matlock and her murky past; Willie and his family's story; and even the attitude that will have to be adopted toward the past owners of now-defunct coal mines, and the strip-miners just coming onto the scene. Chili, the protagonist, herself is faced with the ordeal of forgiving someone who destroys something very precious to her.

I love this book, and its gentle handling of so many pre-teen anxiety-ridden situations. The author never flags; my interest never waned. There was no temptation to skip ahead, nor were there unwieldy paragraphs which may discourage the young or reluctant reader. Unjust attitudes are squarely faced, and our heroine, Chili, never stops questioning the why's and wherefore's of those attitudes, and the past events which are shaping her present life. She is believable, and real, and by the last page, I wished I could know how things turned out for her! (Yes, she is a fictitious character!)

I hope we hear more from this author, and soon!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Timothy A. Callahan on May 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book,"To Come and Go Like Magic". Author Katie Pickard Fawcett captured the longing of a young girl staying true to herself despite the overwhelming pull of others. The story was beautifully written, grabbed and held me until the end. It told so well the longing to leave home in search of other horizens but yet the need to hold unto what we have in childhood. The story had many angles and characters with their own story but they never got in the way of the story of Chili, the 12 year old main character.
I strongly recommend this look at the seventies in Appalachia Kentucky.

Tim Callahan
Author of the Kentucky Summers Series:
The Cave, The Cabin and the Tattoo Man
Coty and the Wolfpack
Dark Days in Morgan County
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laura on July 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. It has a really original and beautifully depicted setting in Appalachia in the 1970s. This coming-of-age story is told with gorgeous language, laden with poignant imagery, and full of vivid characters. I particularly loved how the author dealt with themes of poverty, loyalty to family and community, restlessness, love, and redemption. The portrayal of the community feels very authentic, with an anthropologist's eye for detail. A moving read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tina Says VINE VOICE on July 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
One of the things I enjoy the most about reading is finding new books and authors that are not yet well known. There are a lot of talented writers out there that aren't famous, who are writing and rewriting in order to make every single word absolutely perfect in their work.

To Come and Go Like Magic by Katie Pickard Fawcett is a first novel for tweens/young adults and Fawcett has done an amazing job with her story. Set in Appalachia in the 1970s, Chili narrates her story in short vignettes, sharing what life in her small town is like. Fawcett has created a family of interesting characters who all march to the beat of their own drum. Chili dreams of leaving her small town, of seeing the world. Chili's substitute teacher, Miss Matlock, grew up in Mercy Hill, but left for many years, returning in her old age. Having Miss Matlock there to talk to, to share her adventures with her, makes Chili all the more convinced that she will leave Mercy Hill someday and go somewhere more exciting. While Chili's family has enough money, there are many people in Mercy Hill who are "welfares." Mining is the major employer, and there are no longer enough jobs to keep everyone employed. Chili's family plans on preserving the mountain they live on from those who plan on strip mining to make a profit. She is also curious about Miss Matlock's background and what led her to come back to Mercy Hill, having heard her parents and other relatives speak around some issues in Miss Matlocks' past.

There was a lot for me to like in this book. I loved the setting and time period. I loved the way Fawcett set this story up, using vignettes of Chili's life. I loved Chili's friendship with one of the "welfares," Willie, and how it developed over time. I loved the quirkiness of the characters.
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