Magic Spell

I have a new book out called Magic Spell.

Magic Spell is a book about spelling in all senses: the spelling of words, the spells of magicians, and the spells that people cast over each other.

I have always liked puzzles and wordplay. With a flick of your pen a word can change meaning completely – night becomes light,  a toy turns into a boy, a ball becomes a bell.

In 2012 I drew the character Aziz – a magician who was a mighty speller.

I wrote a story where Aziz performed prodigious feats of spelling. But it wasn’t enough. He needed an assistant. And the story needed a plot. Along came Zaza.

The story became about their relationship and their struggle.

In the beginning Aziz is the star, the main attraction.

He has all of the power and his beautiful assistant doesn’t even have a name. She does all of the dirty work – such as picking up fish, wrestling with a hose that had been a rose, or putting out a fire.

She goes along with this until he turns her wig into a pig. That is too much.

She lets him know her name, Zaza, and tells him that she can spell too. They fight over the wand.

A series of spelling battles ensue.

Aziz turns a bug to a rug to a rat to a cat.

Zaza turns his coat to a boat to a boot to a book to a rook.

They cast spells back and forth. The argument escalates and things get bad.  Beads become beans become bears.

Aziz and Zaza must learn to work together pronto.

And they do. TADA! A new show is born.

If a magic spell is done well it seems effortless. The same is true of a book. But with both (with everything) there is usually a lot of work behind the scenes. I rewrote Magic Spell many, many times in an effort to strengthen the story and to make the word transitions smooth. Before it was accepted for publication my critique group helped,  Linda Pratt gave advice and encouragement and Andrea Spooner gave helpful editorial feedback. After it was accepted by Simon and Schuster, Kristin Ostby and Liz Kossnar were wonderful editors. Art director Laurent Lynn added his magic touch including SPARKLES. Katie Johnson consulted to make sure that the spelling changes and word choices were appropriate for learning readers. Many people waved their wands and – voila – five years after Aziz fell out of my pen a book was born.

You can buy Magic Spell at your local bookstore or click here to buy it from Secret Garden Books in Seattle. I hope you will enjoy it.

11 responses to “Magic Spell

  1. Good Morning, MS Paschkis, what an imagination, talent and writing – illustrating you have and best wishes. I will let the librarian know at our public library, about this terrific book of spelling spells oh yet magic spells. Mrs. Arthur Keith Annette

  2. Tada! A star is born! Congratulations on the book coming out, Julie. It’s so much fun. Young readers are going to love it!

  3. I have always enjoyed spelling. What fun to write a book with a spelling focus.
    Laura’s friend Leigh

  4. Ah! Love this, I have to get a copy very soon. So lovely, I hope I can make the book launch. Congratulations, Maestra!

  5. Deirdre O'Sullivan from Australia

    WOW! Julie – your book looks too too charming! Congrats! I can’t wait to order it here in Oz. I just love the way you’ve outlined the plump lady with that swirling flourish of a thin black line, and left just the right amount of white space around her curvy figure. That’s not easy to do –
    you need to draw it swiftly and confidently to make the line sing – and you have! You know what that flourish reminds me of? Walt Peregoy’s line work on the 1961 cartoon of 101 Dalmatians. He was the colour stylist on that superb Disney film – go take a peek at his brill work – you both have the same flair. It’s attention to this sort of detail that gives your drawings that ZING factor!

    • Julie Paschkis

      Thank you! I was trying to keep the line alive – I’m glad to hear it felt that way. I see 101 Dalmations in the early 1960s – maybe it sunk in subliminally. I will look at it again.

  6. laurakvasnosky

    zing is right! this one is fun in words and images. sure to elicit lots of laughter and delight, as it did around our critique table. i love reading the story of it being conjured up.

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