Review Detail

Even and Odd Featured
Kids Fiction 144
Tweens Save the World
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Even and Odd are sisters born a year apart who share their magical power. Odd isn't thrilled with hers, and worries that her activities on "odd" days will be limited because she can't control her powers, but Even, who is older, is due to take a magical exam and is angry that she can't practice her magic every day. She also really, really wants to go on a business trip with her mother into the magical world, Firoth. The family runs a store on the border, and deals with both magical and nonmagic items, and the mother travels to promote the shop. Even manages to turn herself into a skunk as a joke, but is worried when she can't turn herself back. When others notice that magic is not working as it should, and messages aren't getting across the border, the girls start to worry. Along with a unicorn who was in the shop, Jeremy, the girls check out another portal in town and manage to make it to Firoth... but can't get back. Jeremy is already in trouble, since he was not supposed to leave the magical world, but went in order to buy soda and game cards! His home has been moved, since magic on the Firoth side of the border is acting up. His family sends the group to Lady Vell, a famous entrepreneur who is an expert on border magic, and the girls find out a family secret from her. She is responsible for the problems, but won't stop what she is doing, leaving the girls, along with Jeremy, to try to figure out a solution. Luckily, the girls' mother finds them, and helps them fix the magic and come to terms with their magical past.
Strengths: Durst successfully thrusts us right into Even and Odd's magical world and it was easy to go along without missing a beat. We get just enough of the shop and the family situation before going right to Firoth, with a unicorn who has an invisibility cape, no less! This was particularly well paced, and never dragged for a moment. There were plenty of funny moments, such as Joj and the mermaids for whom he cares, and even has a bit of an environmental message! This is a fantastic book for readers who aren't quite ready for high fantasy but want to have an adventure in a magical world.
Good Points
Magical realism is a popular genre with older elementary school students and younger middle school ones, and the fact that these sisters are part of a family that lives so close to a portal to another world will make this an appealing title. Who wouldn't want a unicorn or dragon to talk to, and tweens are great at saving the world!

I love that Durst writes stand alone fantasy titles, and these are popular with my students, so I'll definitely purchase this one. The cover is fantastic! I have older titles like Enchanted Ivy and the Into the Wild duology, and Catalyst, The Stone Girl's Story, and especially Spark all circulate well, although I have to admit that the cover of The Girl Who Couldn't Dream dissuaded me from buying it. It was also a bit young.

Readers who can't get enough of books like Lee's Pahua and the Soul Stealer, Kim's The Last Fallen Star, and Doshi's Rea and the Blood of the Nectar will love this fantasy adventure with two sisters who need to harness their own magic in order to preserve their family and their world.
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