Exploring Modern Magical 


Mini Reviews, May 2006

Category: Film

© 2002, rated PG-13
Directed by Jim Sheridan
105 minutes


Comments: IN AMERICA—a contemporary fairy tale of an Irish family sneaking into America and trying to build a new life for themselves. It is the story of three wishes that are given to Christy, the elder of the two daughters in the family, by her brother before he died—and tells us, in her own words, of how she chooses to use each of them to tip the scale of their lives in certain small but important ways. It is understated magical realism, which emerges as we see the gritty world they inhabit through Christy and her younger sister Ariel's eyes, as they move through it and cast a bit of brightness on all their surroundings.


Category: Fiction
© 2005, Sandra Schwayder Sanchez
The Wessex Collective


Comments: THE CYCLES of abuse, as they exist in what are assumed to be loving relationships, constitute the nature of this story. The narrative plays tag between related characters over a period of time, culminating in a sense of cycles healing, or at least not repeating themselves. This is a lovely, haunting, honest work, the perfect choice for people who believe in guardian angels and the innate emotional wisdom of the Natural world.


Category: Children's Books/Fiction
© 1999, Jerry Spinelli
Little, Brown


Comments: IMAGINE THIS: a story told in epic proportion (think Forrest Gump), but featuring the streetwise title character, a runaway white kid who sets up residence in and around a black neighborhood. And take the term runaway literally; this boy could outrun a cheetah! A terrific tall tale wraps itself around this wonderfully told story, which involves race relations, adult illiteracy and the beauty of extended family. The story's compassionate hero and the author's engaging sense of humor make this a must-have for both mid-grade readers and parents reading at bedtime.



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