More Than Magic
More Than Magic
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Annotation: Missing her late mother while her animator father dates a woman with snooty teen daughters, Ryder is astonished when a popular adventurer cartoon character modeled after her jumps out of the television and asks Ryder for help preventing the network's plans to transform her character into a princess.
Catalog Number: #127325
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: Random House
Copyright Date: 2016
Edition Date: 2016
Illustrator: Tercio, Ricardo,
Pages: 214 pages
Availability: Indefinitely Out of Stock
ISBN: 0-553-49891-6
ISBN 13: 978-0-553-49891-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2015031864
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Eleven-year-old Ryder never expected that her best ally in the fight to keep her clueless dad's greedy new girlfriend from wrecking her deceased mom's cartoon television show would be her own animated alter ego, Rory. Traveling through a portal from the real world to the animated, Ryder joins the fight to keep tomboy heroine Rory from becoming just another princess who needs saving by a prince. Lasky's (Guardians of Ga'Hoole series) worthy modern-day story about not growing up too quickly is almost overwhelmed by varied plot pieces that include concerns of grief and family; descriptions of the mechanics of animation, cartooning, and computer operations (STEAM alert!); and the movement between reality and the animated world, which is populated with wicked witches, princes, and faithful servants l reflections of the people in Ryder's life. This disparate mix can make it difficult to identify a clear audience for the tale, but girls reluctant to enter the world of fashion and makeup will particularly appreciate the feisty, unconventional female leads.
Horn Book
Eleven-year-old Ryder discovers that Rory, the heroic television-cartoon character her late mother created for her, is about to be turned into a helpless princess. Ryder magically enters Rory's animated world to save the day and keep Rory strong. The plot is garbled, but the grrl-power story line may hold readers' attention.
Kirkus Reviews
Ryder has just turned 11, the same age as the cartoon character created by her years-dead mother, and learns that she can enter the cartoon world—and possibly save it.Ryder's mom, a brilliant animator, based her main character, Rory, on Ryder. Rory is a swashbuckling girl adventurer in an extremely popular cartoon series, soon to be a film. Now Ryder's dad is interested in nasty Bernice, who wants to make the film Rory into a sappy princess with a vapid magic wand instead of a scrappy slingshot. Scandalized, Ryder doesn't know what to do until Rory herself steps out of the TV and invites Ryder into her world, Ecalpon ("No Place"). There they team up with Ryder's nerdy Jewish friend, Eli, to change the movie back to the original concept. Ryder, Rory, and Eli enlist the aid of Connie, Bernice's one likable daughter. Inhabiting the wireframe layer of the animation, the children learn they can drag artwork from the trash to re-create the original drawings. But can they win the race against time to save Rory and the film? Alternating narration among Ryder, Rory, and minor characters in Ecalpon, Lasky creates her own absorbing magical world, neatly folding it around a story of friendship. The cast is not notably diverse; with the possible exception of Connie, they all seem to be white. Both the concept and the well-paced suspense will appeal. (Fantasy. 8-12)
Publishers Weekly
Magic and reality collide in Lasky-s (the Guardians of Ga-Hoole series) humorous Cinderella-esque tale. Eleven-year-old Ryder is stunned when her soft-spoken, widowed father tells her that he has found happiness with a manipulative woman named Bernice. In the midst of Ryder-s angst, Rory, the animated star of Ryder-s parents- successful TV show, jumps out of the screen and into Ryder-s bedroom pleading for help. Script changes to a planned film are transforming the brave, fierce heroine-who, as an animated character, lacks free will-into an older, curvier, wand-wielding princess scheduled to be married to a hapless prince. -How can you kick butt with a wand that isn-t even magic?- Ryder gripes. Narration rotates among several characters, and as Ryder and Rory join forces to find allies in both the real and animated worlds, they begin to learn that there is more to each of them than meets the eye. Ryder-s courage and humor in the face of adversity will captivate readers as Lasky explores friendship, family, and the pressures that society puts on girls. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)

School Library Journal
Gr 46 Lasky, best-selling author of the "Guardians of Ga'Hoole" series, introduces 11-year-old Ryder in this new fantasy. Ryder's mother created a cartoon television show called Super-Rory-Us , featuring Rory, a character based on Ryder. The popular TV series is about to be turned into a feature-length film. Rory is all Ryder has left of her mom, who passed away several years ago. Now her dad has starting dating the horrible Bernice, who takes over the movie production and proposes tons of terrible changes, such as making Rory a princess who loves clothes instead of a girl who fights crime and loves adventure. Ryder can't understand what her father sees in Bernice. The girl soon learns that she can enter the television world, and she teams up with Rory, best friend Eli, and Connie (Bernice's daughter). The group must traverse Ecalpon, the fictional cartoon universe, in a race to save the show that Ryder's mom created. This is a quick and entertaining middle grade read, and kids will cheer on Ryder and her friends as they battle the witch of Ecalpon and Bernice. VERDICT Fans of light fantasy-adventure will enjoy this; a solid purchase for larger middle grade collections. Megan McGinnis, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (7/1/16)
Horn Book (8/1/17)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (7/1/16)
Word Count: 36,429
Reading Level: 3.9
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.9 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 184995 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 530L
Guided Reading Level: V
Fountas & Pinnell: V

Chapter 1






The sun slides like a dull copper coin behind a sky filled with dust as Granny and I ride our horses through the valley. All you can hear is the squeak of our saddles and the horses' hooves on the hard-packed dirt.


"Dust storm coming up the valley," Granny says. A minute later two whirlwinds peel off from the storm. Granny tugs her scarf up to cover her mouth and keep the dust out. Skinny as a split rail, my grandmother sits tall in the saddle. I tug up my scarf too. "Let's pull a Calamity," she says.


Calamity, the sorrel mare that Granny rides, is named for Calamity Jane, the most famous person who ever lived in Deadwood, South Dakota. She was a master of terrific escapes from everything from bad guys to weather. I am behind Granny on my pinto pony, Delbert. The human Delbert was a leading citizen of Deadwood. He and his wife, Delberta, invented the Delbert ice cream bar, chocolate and vanilla all in one. Delbert and Delberta became very rich and my mom went to art school on a D&D scholarship.


Granny digs the heels of her boots into her mare's flanks and gallops down into a steep gorge to escape the marauding dust devils that have multiplied into four swirling cones. By the time we're safe in the gorge, it starts to rain.


"Over here, Ryder!"


Granny finds a ledge with an overhang to protect us. The rain is bucketing down, and when I reach her, my flat-brimmed cowboy hat is spilling sheets of water down my neck and face.


"Why, you're wet as an old wet hen." She chuckles. Granny has a funny little gap between her front teeth that makes her smile extra sweet. She whistles through that gap.


I'm so happy to be riding with Granny on the prairie. Dad was right; this visit was a good idea. Every time he calls, he sounds brighter. Last night he said he had been out to dinner a few times with a lady named Bernice, who is the director of the Radiance place. He said it to me gently, as if I might be worried that he was dating someone. But it's okay. For the first time in almost two years, Dad and I are both sort of happy.




"You know, it was right here that a rattler dropped down on your mom when she was a kid," Granny says.




"Yes siree Bob, right over there." She nods toward a rusty patch of stone.


"What did she do?"


"Took her piggin' string and whupped the daylights out of it."


"Piggin' string? But that's what calf ropers use to tie up calves' feet."


"Works on a rattler too. She gave it a few mean swats, then, Lord knows how, but she looped that string round his head and slip-knotted it. Nearly took his whole head off. His rattles are hanging up in the living room--the very ones."


"The ones with the little decorations painted on them?"


"Yes indeed. There wasn't anything your mom couldn't paint or draw on. What an artist! And everything she touched with her paintbrush or her pen--every piece of her art, including all those lovely hats she made with the chicken feathers--they all had soul. Just pure soul." She sighs. "And you, Ryder, were as much of an inspiration as any old bad-butt rattlesnake."


"Granny, I'm not sure that's a compliment."


"Believe me, it is, dollin'."


Nobody says "darling" the way Granny does. Granny's other term of endearment for me is "chicken." Not that she thinks I'm chicken like being afraid of stuff. No, she has a sweet spot for chickens. She raises the prettiest ones--Rhode Island Reds, New Zealand spotted guinea hens. That's where my mom got all the feathers for her hat designs. I have two of the spotted guinea feathers in my hatband. Granny has a Golden Polish in hers.


The rain lets up after about ten minutes and we ride out into the newly rinsed world. It's always beautiful after a downpour. A soft mist rises from the river and curls like a ribbon through the valley. Birds sing, and golden light washes out of the sky. The air is clean and the grass has a tangy sweetness. I bet the earthworms are doing little jigs under the ground.




It isn't long before we see the house crouching under the only grove of cottonwoods on a huge plain. I love Granny's house. A bunch of Mom's things are here. Granny lets me take anything I want. But I don't like taking things back to our house in California. I'm afraid they'd get homesick. Like the patchwork quilt Mom made that I always sleep under here.


Mom was a wonderful quilter. I love the small patches of cloth that she picked out and carefully stitched together into what's called a crazy quilt, with odd shapes colliding, unexpected fabrics next to each other, like velvet next to plain gingham, and all sorts of stitches, from curlicue embroidery to delicate feather stitches. There might be fun things besides fabric--beads, lace, ribbons, buttons, medals, and maybe a feather or two. She did many patterns, but crazy quilts were her favorite. And they're mine too.


In our house in Bel Air, outside of Los Angeles, things are too bright, too perfect. There's a swimming pool where the water looks like blue Jell-O, and the air-conditioning thrums all day and all night. The grass is too green and has no smell. The ice maker in the refrigerator sounds like bones crunching. But it was Mom and Dad's dream house. Once I asked Mom how the Bel Air house could be her dream house when she also said that about Granny's little stone house. She said, "Nothing wrong with having a lot of dreams, sweetie."


But you can only live in one dream, I think. Granny's house is mine. It's all on one level with a wraparound porch. The porch has what they call out here a brush arbor roof so the sun doesn't broil you during the day and the moonlight can trickle through at night. No lawn. Granny says it's immoral to feed a lawn when children are starving all over the world. But the best thing is she has a garden growing right out of her roof. She has a sod roof, just like Laura Ingalls Wilder did in Little House on the Prairie. All kinds of stuff sprouts from that roof, and it's my job to tend it. We don't plant anything, the flowers just come--oxeye daisies; dame's rocket with its soft purple bursts of blossoms; Queen Anne's lace; beardtongue, which doesn't have a beard or tongue but looks like teensy-weensy trumpets for mice to toot. We don't mind the weeds. We like to go up there for star watching.


When we get home from our ride, we unsaddle the horses and brush them down. Granny gives them each a groat cake. Calamity especially loves groat cakes. It's time for our supper, but first I want to see Mom's painted rattles again.


In the living room, I look at the picture of Granny presenting my mom with her diploma. Mom looks slightly embarrassed. It must have been weird to have your own mother be the principal of your school. And there they are--eight rattles. "Holy moly, they're huge!"


"Yep," says Granny. "Look how pretty she painted them. They might be huge rattles for a rattlesnake, but they're kind of a small canvas for a painter. And she did it so delicate-like. That gal could have crocheted a sweater for a hummingbird." I giggle picturing it.


There are merry little pictures of flowers and things. And one . . . I blink. "Hey, that's me!" I pause. "I think. But it looks more like Rory, maybe."


"Neither one of you was around then." Granny gives my shoulder a squeeze. "I'm going to miss you, chicken."


I've been here over a month and have to go back to Bel Air tomorrow.


"I'm going to miss you too, Granny."


I look down at my cowboy boots. I don't want her to see my eyes with their wet twinkles.




For dinner I eat four pieces of corn on the cob and a pile of tomatoes, all from Granny's garden. We don't eat Granny's chickens. They're just for laying eggs. For dessert Granny makes us tin roof sundaes: vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and peanuts on top.


"The ice cream and the peanuts count for protein," Granny says.


While we eat dessert, we turn on the television and Rory's face fills the screen. She's on a pirate ship rescuing some kids who were kidnapped because the pirates thought they could help them find a buried treasure. While balancing on the rail of the ship, Rory is swinging and jabbing with her sword. She snips the buttons off the pirate's waistcoat and then his britches, which fall down, leaving him in his underwear.


Rory does stuff I could never do. She makes Robin Hood look clumsy with a bow and arrow. She always hits the bull's-eye. I squint at her. Something seems a little off about Rory. Maybe it's the reception. Granny puts her glasses on and leans closer. "She looks different, Ryder. A little older." She grabs my hand and gives it a tight squeeze, then tucks it under her arm as if she's scared I might skedaddle. She turns to me. Her pale blue eyes are wobbly behind the magnification of the lenses. "Love ya, chicken."


When I get in bed, I text Penny. Can you get the Rory show in London? Take a look. Is anything weird about her?


I wonder if she'll text me back. She never calls anymore and only sometimes answers my text messages.


At about two in the morning, a little ping wakes me up. Penny!


Hi, Ryder. I'm off to a garden party today. Guess who's going to be there? A royal princess!


I text back: Did you read my text about Rory? Do they have the show there?


Then she texts: No idea about Rory or show. Mum's letting me wear heels today! Talk later.


Mum? Heels? What's with Penny?

Excerpted from More Than Magic by Kathryn Lasky
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Girls who enjoy spunky heroines such as Merida from Brave (Disney/Pixar) and Ella from Ella Enchanted will want to join Rory and Ryder in their adventures in our world—and the world beyond the TV. An exciting new middle-grade fantasy from Kathryn Lasky, bestselling author of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series.
Ryder Holmsby is the same age as Rory, the popular TV cartoon character her animator parents created. Ryder and Rory are alike—bold and brave! But Ryder is a bit lonely: Mom passed away a couple of years ago, and Dad is dating a woman with snooty teenage daughters. Ryder doesn’t fit in with them at all.
And then: Shazam! Rory jumps out of the TV into Ryder’s bedroom to tell her that the TV studio behind her parents’ show is trying to turn Rory into a dopey princess—no more adventures. She needs Ryder’s help! The two girls team up with a crew of animated and real-life friends to save the day in both worlds.
Kathryn Lasky, bestselling author of the Guardians of Ga’hoole series, the Wolves of the Beyond series, and the Horses of the Dawn series, delivers a whimsical tale in which inner strength is the greatest form of magic.

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