Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences

A Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan


Book Summary

As her parents are separating, Nancy reluctantly moves to her mother's home town in Florida with her older sister Kirby and her younger brother, Brendon.  Used to traveling around the world with her father, a photographer, Nancy resists the things and people in her new town.  Kirby, a talented ballet dancer, becomes immersed in her dance school, while Brendon begins to make new friends.  The school counselor is the first to suspect that Nancy has extra-sensory perception, or ESP.  Can she really read other people's minds?

A Gift of Magic book cover
A Gift of Magic

Book Review

This is a really worthwhile book, because it blends the fantasy premise so naturally with relatable realistic fiction kinds of challenges, like sibling arguments, parental communication, and teachers you'd rather not have. Further, the ambition that Kirby displays and the complete lack of ambition that Brendon displays make interesting foils to each other - what is your responsibility to your talent? What kinds of talents do people value, and who are you without your talent? All these are interesting questions explored in this book. Revolving points of view between Nancy, Kirby, and Brendon give the book interesting voice and balance.

Lois Duncan is also the author of I Know What You Did Last Summer.  The book cover in this photo suggests that this is an action thriller in that vein, but the story is really focused on family relationships.
Left quotation mark

Ithey walked into a restaurant, Nancy would say, 'they're all out of clams,' and as the waiter passed out the menus, he would say, 'I'm sorry, all our clams are gone.' It was just part of Nancy, the way she was serious and had straight hair."

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Talent Development
  • Supporting Others in their Dreams
  • Competition
  • Family Relationships
  • Growing Up

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

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