Welcome to The Tiltersmith Blog Tour!
Follow along as we celebrate the release of The Tiltersmith with behind-the-scenes looks from author Amy Herrick, plus 10 chances to win a copy!
Old Books that Bump into Magic
by Amy Herrick
In yesterday’s blog I talked about my early reading habits, how I particularly loved the kind of fantasies where magical encounters came to ordinary children much like myself as they moved through their ordinary worlds.
Several of these books I go back to again and again looking for the same sensation they gave me the first time I read them, of sitting in my bedroom on a dull and rainy afternoon and noticing a slightly open door in the wall of my bedroom. A door that had never been there before. A door with some light coming through it or maybe a little music or laughter or maybe a scent I’d never scented before. A World in Back of the World.
I’ll mention here a few of the books from my childhood that still do this for me. Books that are still in print, but possibly you have missed.
Five Children and It by Edith Nesbitt
This book was first published in 1902. Although it takes place in England and is over one hundred years old, you will find the children in it perfectly recognizable and ordinary. They have been brought on a summer vacation to a house in the country. One day they find a big sand pit and decide to try to dig a hole to Australia. They don’t manage to get that far, but along the way they accidentally dig up a Psammead, “which in plain English” is a Sand-fairy. It is round and fat and furry with eyes at the end of long horns, like a snail’s eyes. It has been sleeping in the sand pit for the last few thousand years and, as it turns out, is able to grant wishes. This, it proceeds to do, giving them one wish each day. Although the children attempt to be careful, knowing from fairytales how easy it is for things to go wrong in such matters, each wish brings on more trouble than the one before. The book is funny, charming and cleverly suspenseful. It was pretty much a ground-breaker in its time.
Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton
This one was originally published as two books, the first in 1943 (Bedknob), the second (Broomsticks) in 1945. They were later combined in an edited version in 1957. In this story, three siblings are sent away from London to stay with a relative in a countryside town. There, early one morning, they accidently observe their very proper and upright next-door neighbor flying by their window on a wobbling broomstick. When they confront Miss Price with their discovery that she is a witch in training, she devises a clever means of keeping their mouths shut and her secret safe. She gifts them with an enchanted bedknob which will turn their bed into a magical vehicle. When they twist the knob, the bed will carry them anywhere they wish in time or place. The catch is that she will take the spell away if any of them divulge her secret.
In the beginning, it appears that the adventures will be of the tangled, light-hearted variety. For their first wish, longing to see their mother, they give the bed their home address. The bed plops them down in the middle of a foggy London street, dressed only in their pajamas. Unfortunately, their mother is not at home and they are soon carted off to a nearby police station by an annoyed policeman. By guile and quick wits, they manage to get out of this one, but as the book moves on and they are taken across the world* and then thrown into the distant English past, the stakes grow higher and it becomes the sort of book you are reading under the covers with a flashlight.
*It should be noted that in one of these later chapters there is a “cannibal island” scene in which the children meet up with a fictional primitive culture. Nowadays, Norton’s descriptions of the tribe the children encounter might be considered stereotypical and inaccurate.
Half Magic by Edward Eager
Half Magic was the first written of Edward Eager’s seven books about ordinary children who happen to bump into magic right in the middle of their ordinary United States of America childhoods. It takes place at the time of Eager’s own childhood in 1920’s United States and was first published in 1954. The story opens at the beginning of summer. The four protagonists, one brother and three sisters, are bored and hoping they might encounter some magic like the children do in the books of Edith Nesbit. Although, as Mark, the brother, says: “Magic never happens, not really.”
Then Jane finds what she believes to be a nickel stuck in a crack in a sidewalk and puts it in her pocket. She doesn’t really look at it and doesn’t begin to realize the peculiar power of the coin until she innocently wishes out loud that a house would catch on fire somewhere nearby, so they could have some excitement. In the next moment several fire trucks go racing down the street and the children go running after them. They soon stop in front of a yard where a very fancy play house is burning to the ground in a great conflagration of smoke and flames.
In the next instance, their mother, without asking for permission, borrows the coin (also mistaking it for a nickel) off Jane’s dresser. She goes out for a boring evening with relatives, wishes she could be at home without needing to take the long bus ride, and suddenly and inexplicably finds herself on a dark and lonely road, halfway to where she has wished to be.
It soon becomes apparent to the children (although not to their mother), that the coin can grant wishes, but only half a wish at a time.
As the book unfolds, the foursome must experiment as they try to figure out how to cajole the coin into giving them an entire wish.
You might say, that by the end, they are half successful.
The process, however, is a fully satisfying joy ride for the reader.
If you’ve missed any of the above, I envy you. What a first-time treat you have in store for yourself.
About the Book
Myths and monsters collide with climate chaos in a thrilling fantasy adventure.
Spring has arrived in Brooklyn, New York, but winter refuses to let go. Sleet, snow, and even a tornado batter the city. Mr. Ross, the science teacher, believes climate change is the cause, but classmates Edward, Feenix, Danton, and Brigit suspect older, magical forces are at work. When a peculiar character calling himself Superintendent Tiltersmith appears with a keen interest in the foursome, their suspicions are confirmed, and they’re swept up in a battle of wits and courage.
The friends must protect a set of mysterious tools belonging to the Lady of Spring. If they can free her from her underground prison, winter will end. But if the Tiltersmith steals the tools, he will keep the Lady in his power and upset the balance of nature forever.
Perfect for readers of Madeleine L’Engle and Susan Cooper, The Tiltersmith returns to the world of Amy Herrick’s acclaimed Time Fetch in a timely, exciting stand-alone adventure.
“Herrick combines vivid descriptions of climate events, school-set science lessons, and weather-related stories from various cultures around the globe . . . resonates with current events and fits tonally alongside children’s fantasy classics.”
“Vacillating between scientific reasoning and lore from worldwide cultures, the descriptions of beautiful legends of seasons and the sobering study of climate change are so rich.”
“Despite the contemporary setting, a diversified cast, and topical themes, events take on ritualistic elements that readers up on their Greek mythology will recognize. American fans of Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising sequence will find themselves on familiar footing, albeit a bit closer to home.”
“The author proves to have a keen eye for developing wonderfully dastardly villains. Tiltersmith is a fantastic bad guy who oozes disarming charm while also being deeply unsettling … cleverly handled … a compelling tale.”
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“It’s a great combination of the mystical and the scientific! A bit of gentle romance shouldn’t deter younger readers . . . The writing style is craftily literary, with warm incisive forays into each character’s inner life.”
—Youth Services Book Review
About the Author
Amy Herrick grew up in Queens, New York, and attended SUNY Binghamton and the University of Iowa. She lives in Brooklyn, where she has raised two sons, taught pre-K and grade school, written books, and kept company with her husband and numerous pets. A retired teacher, she loves traveling, learning Spanish, and above all reducing her carbon footprint.
- Ten (10) winners will receive a hardcover of The Tiltersmith
- US/Canada only
- Ends 11/6 at 11:59pm ET
- Enter via the Rafflecopter below
- Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!
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