Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Magician's Apprentice by Kate Banks, pictures by Peter Sis

Like his older brothers before him, Baz leaves home to become a weaver's apprentice.  His master is a cruel man, and all the apprentices suffer under him terribly.  Then Baz is sold to a magician for a sword, and his journey truly begins.

This was a quiet and beautiful story.  The language was lovely, weaving beautiful pictures with words.  While it wasn't in verse, it had a rhythmic, poetic feel to it.  Peter Sis' deceptively simple drawings fit perfectly.

This is a learning-a-lesson about life book, so if you don't like those you won't like this.  If you're willing to just let the language and the imagery wash over you, and take whatever you can out of it, you're in for a treat.

Baz has grown up quietly, and wishes that something would happen.  He looks forward to getting out in the world like his older brothers have.  When he gets his chance, he learns the cruelty that is out there in the world.  By the time he is sold to the magician, Baz is a much different person.  He is wary and skeptical and bitter.  He believes he will never see home again.

The magician doesn't have magical powers.  He can do magic tricks, but what he says is really his job is banishing illusions.  And almost everything is an illusion.  Baz is frustrated at first by the way the magician speaks, which seem like riddles to him, but as the two travel together Baz becomes more and more aware of the world around him, and how it is made up of people who have both good and evil in them, and how people see what they wish to see.  Their journey is long and hard, and Baz has much to learn.

This is written on a middle school level, and I think middle schoolers can appreciate the journey that Baz went on, if they have the patience for it.  It's not action packed or flashy.  Again, it's very quiet and simple.  I know there are kids who would really like it, even if they don't completely understand the philosophy element of it.  And teenagers and adults can appreciate it too.

The Magician's Apprentice comes out August 7, 2012.


  1. I loved the Peter Sis drawings as well! And it was really interesting to read your take on this. I gave it a much more negative review over at For Those About to Mock, but I think you're wise to point out that how much you like this one is highly dependent on your feelings about "learning-a-lesson about life books."

    1. Thanks for the comment Sam! I totally understand your point of view. I thought the language and the rhythm of the book were beautiful though.


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