All Kinds of Magic


155 pages
ISBN 0-88899-035-9





Reviewed by Susan Rogers

Susan Rogers was a librarian with the Laurenval School Board (Adult Services), Deux Montagnes, Quebec.


Florence McNeil is a well-known B.C. poet and author of one other young adult novel, Miss P and Me.

In All Kinds of Magic, eleven-year-old Gen is extremely angry when she discovers she must give up computer camp to spend her holiday in Barkerville, babysitting her snivelling eight-year-old step-brother Mark. But when Mark meets Molly, who claims to be a ghost and who lives in a house filled with amazing props that belonged to her late husband, Alonzo the Magician, Gen’s spirits revive. The two children are soon busy attempting to solve the mystery of the missing deed, which will prove that Molly is entitled to remain on her property.

This novel attempts to combine many different elements. It has contemporary characters. Both Gen and Mark come from broken homes. It has an historical setting. Barkerville is a real town and the events that took place there are an important part of the plot. It is a mystery, complete with clues, danger, and a solution, but no villains. And it is fantasy, for Molly is well over one hundred years old.

This combination works for two reasons: the obvious theme of magic (the magic of Alonzo’s props, of Molly’s extended stay on earth, of the developing friendship between Gen and Mark) and more importantly, the story’s fast-moving plot, which carries the reader through the many diverse elements. The novel appeals to readers from grades 4 to 6.



McNeil, Florence, “All Kinds of Magic,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024,