Abracadabra Tut, by Page McBriar (Palm Canyon Press, July 2014, middle grade)--modern magic meets ancient Egypt in an entertaining and educational time travel adventure.
When Fletcher Perry finds out there's an auction of a magician's collection just down the road, he has to go--he's been practicing stage magic for years, and is eager to add to his own collection. He gets more than he bargained for when a mysterious older woman makes the winning bid on a genuine mummy's coffin....on his behalf. It's the perfect prop for his upcoming performance at school, and with his ne assistant, the It girl Arielle Torres, at his side, he's sure that this show will really make his mark as a magician.
But there is magic at work....the mysterious woman, who barges into the show, turns out to be the Egyptian goddess Isis herself--and she has plans for Fletcher. Unfortunatlly, her final instructions get garbled when she's evicted from the premises, and when Arielle and Fletcher shut themselves in the mummy's case for their disappearing act, they open it to find themselves back in Egypt. With very little clue what they are supposed to be doing there.
When they find themselves in the palace of Tutankhamen, they think they must be there to save his life. Fortunately, he's impressed by Fletcher's magic. Unfortunately, others in power are not. So Fletch and Arielle must work quickly to save themselves from being stuck in ancient Egypt forever, by figuring out what Isis wants them to do before it becomes clear that Fletcher's "magic" can't save the pharaoh's life.
It's an exciting trip back in time, and King Tut's court is vividly portrayed. There's lots of ancient Egyptian excitement and intrigue, and Fletcher and Arielle are worthy protagonists. This is a good one for the younger middle grade reader who went through an Egypt phase as a younger child (which many of them seem to do!). The adventures are exciting without being so gruesomely intense that they disturb, and the story is straightforward, with Fletcher's magic tricks adding a lightness to ensemble. It's not quite complex enough to deeply engage older readers, but for the nine or ten year old, I think it's spot on.
Arielle's family is from Mexico, and so this is one I can count for my Multicultural Speculative Fiction list. Yay!
disclaimer: review copy received for Cybils Award consideration