August 06, 2012

Just one piece of a wonderful world

By Kate Banks
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A young boy named Baz longs to see the world beyond his dusty village, so when he is apprenticed as a weaver, he believes his life has finally begun. However, it is when his cruel master trades him for a sword that his life gains meaning. Baz becomes an apprentice to a magician named Tadis, who takes him on a journey through desert, water and mountains to discover the depths of his own soul and his place in the universe. They face starvation, loneliness, peril and uncertainty, but as they traverse the earth, Baz begins to open his eyes to the mysteries of life and discovers the magic behind the journey itself. Just as a river twists and transforms, Baz grows into a young man who understands that he is just one small—but still significant—part of a wide, wonderful world.

Author Kate Banks, whose past works include Max’s Castle and Dillon Dillon, crafts a powerful story of enlightenment with sparse yet rich prose, vibrant images and simple, touching characters. Caldecott winner Peter Sís punctuates the story with delicate, medallion-sized illustrations that look much like ancient etchings. With their gentle tale, Banks and Sís become philosopher kings to children, imparting to them the quiet beauty of all things.

The excitement and adventure of a children’s book can captivate a young reader, but it is the deeper meaning that can make a book a lifelong favorite. The Magician’s Apprentice will enchant children with its danger and magic, but its brilliant philosophy, reminiscent of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, will fascinate more mature readers. This is a story to be rediscovered again and again.

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