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The Wizard's Map (Tartan Magic, Book One)
Jane Yolen
Harcourt Brace, 144 pages

The Wizard's Map
Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the 20th century because of her many fairy tales and story books. She has written over 150 books for children, young adults and adults, along with hundreds of stories and poems. She's a past-president of SFWA and has been a member of the Board of Directors of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) since its inception.

Jane Yolen Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Armageddon Summer
SF Site Review: The Sea Man
SF Site Review: Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast
SF Site Review: The Transfigured Hart

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Regina Lynn Preciado

If you're at all familiar with Jane Yolen, what I say in this review won't surprise you. Once again, this master storyteller weaves humour, intelligence, and life lessons into a beautifully crafted yarn.

Almost 20 years ago I attended the "Royal Reader" program in Sacramento, California. Jane Yolen spoke to groups of children about reading and writing, and about being a writer. We all received autographed copies of The Acorn Quest and a few Royal Reader tchotchkes.

I think they also fed us lunch, but I don't remember that. I do remember sitting bolt upright in my chair, staring at A Real Author, and knowing that I would one day be the grown-up author talking to crowds of children and inspiring them to become writers as well. It didn't occur to me then that when I grew up, I would be reviewing Yolen's work.

With The Wizard's Map, Yolen begins the Tartan Magic series. As the name implies, the novel takes place in Scotland. The modern-day setting does not take away from the magic of that land -- indeed, 13-year-old Jennifer soon realizes that magic is real in Scotland.

The adventures begin when Jennifer and her twin, Peter, discover a card game in their grandparents' attic. Jumanji-style, they begin to play, only to open doors to forces they could not have anticipated.

Yolen's books for young people do not preach. She captures her young characters' (and readers') perspectives with an astuteness not often found in grown-ups:

"They laughed, and Mom and Pop unaccountably laughed with them. Jennifer thought with sudden misery that grown-ups could always be counted on to make a joke at a kid's expense, and she turned on her heel, following Peter down the road. The grown-ups' laughter, like a shadow, trailed behind."
The Wizard's Map explores loyalty, love, and courage. It does so in such a subtle way that you really think you're reading a story about some kids who have to save their parents, Scotland, and the world itself from wizard Michael Scot's evil clutches.

Jennifer and Peter stand on the threshold of a new stage of life. As they begin to discover their special gifts, they also realize they are growing up, and growing apart. Their own recognition of budding adulthood adds yet another dimension to the fantasy story, one that kids will relate to and adults will remember.

Many young adult novels deal with rites of passage. Yolen turns the classic "coming of age" novel into a good tale that never lets the Deep Meaning interfere with the storytelling.

Copyright © 1999 by Regina Lynn Preciado

Regina Lynn Preciado writes and edits for a living. Her short-lived film career began with a role as an extra in The Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition and ended with another in The Return of the Jedi: Special Edition. She wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. Or maybe a train engineer. Want to know more?

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