If your older brother has a twin brother and your younger sister has a twin sister, and you only have yourself, then you will feel a bit left out. 11-year-old Miri, in The Magic Half by Annie Barrows, feels very un-special, and her parents are so busy they don’t notice.
The day Miri hits her brother with a shovel and is sent to her room, is when things change. That’s when Miri accidentally finds herself in her own room, only 75 years earlier. She meets Molly, who is her own age, and who believes Miri is a fairy, come to save her. Miri believes in fairies, even though it’s a childish thing to do, but she knows she herself is no fairy. So who is wrong here?
Molly leads an awful existence with her aunt and cousins, who all want to be rid of her. It’s 1935, and this book provides an interesting contrast between the different ways of life in the same house. It’s rural America at the time of the Great Depression and times are hard. Miri also has to rack her memory for what is yet to happen, like World War II, and its possible impact on Molly.
You could see this book as a clever way of looking at the past and teaching young readers about history, and about friendship and helping people.
On the other hand, you could see the book as a fun adventure with time travelling and fairies and friendship. And when you come to the concluding chapter you realise that there was only one way Miri’s and Molly’s problem could be solved. Carelessness with frying pans should never be ignored.