Author: Laurel Ann Reinhardt
Illustrator: Jan Stamm
Trade Paperback, 192 pages
Publication date: May 2001
Price & More Info: Click Here
When twelve year old Erin has trouble explaining her family's winter solstice celebration at school after the holidays, she realizes that while she enjoys her family's seasonal celebrations she really doesn't understand what or why they are celebrating nearly as well as her best friend understands why her family celebrates Christmas. Erin's mother her convinces to talk with Evangeline, the now eighty year old woman who had taught her when she was younger.
Evangeline agrees to teach Erin about the the holidays of the wheel of the year, but makes her promise to work with her throughout an entire year and warns her that she will have to make small sacrifices in order to learn. The rest of the book follows Erin through the year as she learns more about the wheel of the year, the world around her, and herself.
This book is a well-written story aimed at pre-teens. Given its style (a concentration on relationships rather than action), it will probably be enjoyed more by young women than by young men. Seasons of Magic is careful to remember that it is a novel and not a textbook. While the reader will not be able to avoid learning about the wheel of the year common to Wicca and Wicca-like Neo-Pagan religions, this book never makes the mistake of slipping into lecture mode just to be able to squeeze more educational information in. However, the novel proper is followed by the contents of a workbook which Evangeline supposedly left for Erin which contains more organized, factual information about the holidays.
The only possible negative point I see about this book that parents should be aware of is that Evangeline passes over shortly after the Fall Equinox. While most pre-teens will be able to handle this, it might be a bit much for some younger children.
This book has several truly excellent minor touches. First, Erin's best friend is a Christian, from a normal Christian family. No raving "fundie" stereotypes here. Second, the workbook notes that the holidays are on different dates in the southern hemisphere and gives both northern and southern hemisphere dates for the festivals. Oddly, however, the glossary immediately following the workbook only mentions the "standard" northern hemisphere dates. Finally, Jan Stamm's soft illustrations at the beginning of each chapter set the mood nicely.
In summary, Seasons of Magic is a competently written, positive, young adult novel with a strong Wiccan background. It would make a fine present.
Reviewed by Randall.