"A timeless and affecting, slightly paranormal exploration of familial attachments."
"His relationships with Mr. X and his tempestuous older sister, Pookie, are sensitively depicted, showcasing the growing understanding among these memorable characters."
"Julian's distinctive narration, awash in supernatural perceptions as well as a nine-year-old's natural misconceptions, is a tour de force... Touching contemporary magical realism, with a final twist that truly surprises."
School Library Journal
"I have been reading a lot of novels about family lately, and I realize that no matter how different families are, it’s magic that brings or holds them together. And, conversely, science teachers, here’s a novel you can add to your curriculum.
In this story, we see that Julian’s faith in magic and his belief in science do not oppose each other. The universe and Julian’s uni-sense work in harmony, harmony that affects those closest to him although sometimes it takes a few stars to help.
I will borrow words from the title to describe this novel—“incredible” and “magical,” not so much about magic as it is magical. I laughed, I cried, I ran to the window to look up at the night sky and dragged out my old telescope. I loved the characters and how different they were—Mom, Joan, Pookie, Mr. X. And I learned quite a lot of science."
Literacy with Lesley Roessing
Fun Facts About The Incredible Magic of Being
Here's a link to the Discussion Guide for The Incredible Magic of Being!
Thanks to Ezvid Wiki, the world's first video wiki, for including The Incredible Magic of Being as #4 in its 10 Enthralling Middle Grade Reads where Reality and Fantasy Collide. (Check out the other books on the list, too!)
Here's a gorgeous review on The Pirate Tree: Social Justice and Children's Literature
October 9 2017
I love this review of The Incredible Magic of Being which I'm sharing with you the day before it publishes (with just one edit to allay any fears). :-) Thanks to author Deborah M. Prum ... by the way, if you're studying Russian history, you don't want to miss her hilarious Czars and Czarinas!
This is how much I enjoyed Kathryn Erskine’s The Incredible Magic of Being: the day after I finished reading the delightful book, I picked it up and read it again. I never do that.
Julian is a 9.63 year-old boy (his calculation) who loves physics and astronomy. He empathizes so fully with the people around him that he actually senses their thoughts and feelings. Oh, and one more thing…from the sound of things, it seems as if Julian’s death might be imminent.
Julian and his family move from D.C. to Maine to a house by a lake where they plan to operate a bed and breakfast. Pookie, Julian’s teenage sister, is miserable about the move and about life in general. One could say she is a toxic waste dump of misery. Shortly after the family arrives, a lawyer comes to their door. He tells them that they have violated an easement agreement and that their neighbor is insisting they tear down the addition which Julian’s parents intended to use as a bed and breakfast.
At the end of each chapter, the reader finds a section called “Facts and Random Thoughts.” The sections contain fascinating information about physics, astronomy and Julian’s insightful reactions to the world around him.
Erskine nails Julian’s voice. He is all at once engaging, entertaining, and informative in a non-pretentious way. Although Julian is focused on end-of-life issues, the story is not maudlin in any way. The author manages to tell a poignant and moving tale without once being saccharine.
Science teachers take notice: this novel would provide an excellent complement to any section you teach on astronomy or elementary physics. For everyone else: this is a charming book, which will be much beloved by its audience.
Reader Review of THE INCREDIBLE MAGIC OF BEING
Thanks to Janet Johnson for this review of MAGIC -- I think her explanation of the story is the best of any I've seen (including mine)!
"The Incredible Magic of Being" by Kathryn Erskine
I guarantee you will never meet another character like Julian. He is a very special boy.
When Julian and his family move to Maine, he is afraid of the lake near his new house. He also has to deal with his older sister, Pookie, who no longer likes him or anything else. Then there is the new neighbor, Mr. X, who doesn't like children but needs a friend nonetheless. Julian is determined to be that friend. He could use one as well. But then Mr. X makes Julian a deal. If Julian will learn how to swim, they can share a new puppy. Julian really wants a dog, but can he conquer his fear of the water in order to get one?
I liked Julian from the start. He's a great kid who just wants peace in his family and someone who will listen to him. Mom and Joan are good to him, but they are very busy. That's why he gravitates to Mr. X, a lonely old man. Julian figures they need each other.
I loved the thoughts going through Julian's head. He has a special way of looking at things, which was sometimes amusing. He's very interested in the magic of the universe, and he makes the reader curious as well.
It was a real treat reading this book. I recommend it for anyone who believes that magic doesn't only come from a wand.