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Mr Majeika by Humphrey Carpenter

This is the first in a series of books about the ex-wizard turned school teacher, Mr. Majeika.

These are short novels, which are perfect for those children who have just found their feet with reading, and who are ready to move away from picture books, but not quite ready yet to face full on novels.  At about 95 pages of large type, this is grown up enough to seem like a proper book, but manageable by a newly confident reader.

Mr. Majeika is a funny, gentle story about what happens when Mr. Majeika gives up being a wizard (there’s not much call for it any more), and decides to try his hand at becoming a school teacher instead.

As Mr. Majeika sails into his first class on a flying carpet it becomes clear that he is not quite ready to make the transition away from wizard just yet, and this is just how class three like it.  Mr. Majeika’s wizarding skills come in particularly handy when he has to deal with the class trouble maker, Hamish Bigmore.

There are a few black and white illustrations in the book, which mean that the children reading are not totally stuck in a sea of text, although the story is vivid and simple enough for them not to get confused or lost, even without illustrations.

The story is a lovely fantasy in which fun is the order of the day and there really isn’t anything threatening or menacing about it.  I recommend it for independent readers of say, between six and ten.  It is also perfect as a read aloud story to share with younger, less competent readers.

There are a considerable number of Mr. Majeika stories available if your child/ren are hooked on Mr. Majeika.  They would make good companion books to the equally funny and inventive Simon and The Witch stories by Margaret Stuart Barry.

As an educational tool the book works on many levels.

It would be a good way to start introducing the idea of plotting things other than a short story, and how you sustain interest from the reader across a whole book.

It is also good for looking at things like character development and what kind of characters you would need to say, populate a school setting to make it more realistic.

You could discuss the kinds of spells that Mr. Majeika casts, and what kind of spells the children would cast if they had Mr. Majeika’s powers.

The book is suitable for both boys and girls, although the boys characters in this volume are slightly better drawn, and the spells that Mr. Majeika casts are much more boyish in nature.

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