Saturday, March 17, 2018

King, Zach: My Magical Life

Schulz, Charles. I'm Not Your Sweet Babboo! (Peanuts Collection #10)
March 13th 2018 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher

This collection of strips, which seems to date from about 1977 if I have placed the character of Molly Volley correctly with the help of the Peanuts Wiki (who knew there was such a thing?), concentrate on the adventures of the Peanuts characters, mainly at school. Peppermint Patty and Marcie seem to appear more than usual, with Patty attending a dog training school hoping to get out of going to regular school, and Patty and Marcie investigating a country club. Linus has an interesting interaction with a girl he meets at a farm, which angers Sally. This explains the cover. It is rather amazing how well the vast majority of the strips hold up; the only reference I completely did not get was to Bruce Cabot, an actor who appeared in King Kong. There is a baseball team of younger children (Milo, Ruby and Leland) who ask Charlie Brown to help coach them, which was something I didn't remember at all!

Schulz is a cultural icon, and I would love to have this collection in a prebind so that I could include it in my school library. Paper backs only last about three years, no matter how much tape and glue we use! If children insist on reading comics, they might as well be the wholesome and funny panels that still appear in the newspaper today! I really wish that the original dates of publication would be listed on both the newspaper strips as well as collections like these.

I also think that buildings should all be required by law to list the date of construction and any major renovation at the same location by a main entrance, but I don't think that is likely to happen!

King, Zach. My Magical Life (#1)
September 26th 2017 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Zach comes from a magical family, and his relatives all have objects they use to channel their magic. Zach's father has a pocket watch, but Zach can't seem to find an object of his own. His parents are worried that the magic has "skipped" him, so they decide to enroll him in public school instead of homeschooling him, so that he can learn to deal with regular people. He's lucky to make a friend in Aaron right away, but he also makes an enemy of popular girl and bully Tricia. When Zach finds himself behind the glass in a vending machine (without his clothes on!), he's embarrassed, but also hopeful that he has some magic in him. Aaron loves to make videos, so he and Zach try to figure out what Zach's magic item is, finally settling on two baseball caps (snapbacks). Zach can use these to transport himself and objects, which is very helpful. After Tricia is mean to him again, he fills her locker with chocolate pudding, which explodes all over her. When Zach and Aaron accidentally transport an alligator, with disastrous results, they realize that Zach needs to learn to harness his magic more effectively. Perhaps he will in the next book in this series, Zach King: The Magical Mix-Up, which is due to be published on May 1, 2018.

This book has a lot of colorful interior illustrations on nice, heavy paper, but since it is a jacketed hardback, I think it will hold up better than some similar books in paperback. There are full color descriptions of all of the characters at the beginning of the book, and occasional comic strip style panels throughout the story.

It's easy to believe that Zach's family is magic, and the story doesn't belabor his lack of magic, but rather gives him lots of opportunities to discover what his talents and his objects are. He runs into some predictable trouble, but it's nice to see him work through the process with the help of a good friend.

Zach King is apparently an internet phenomenon, and there is a free app that accompanies this book available at I have to admit that I didn't look at any of the videos or investigate the app, but young readers might find both of these things of interest.

Magic is always an appealing subject to young readers. Fans of King's internet exploits or books like Callaghan's Just Add Magic, Osborne's Magic Treehouse books, Geronimo Stiltoon's illustrated exploits, or older titles like Edward Eager's books will find My Magical Life to be a pleasant diversion.

This is an optional purchase for school libraries unless there is a huge fan base for Zach King: it's an attractive book, but not very well written.

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