Some books are fun and exciting and adventuresome. Some books lure you in with flashy covers, or great blurbs, and keep you there with engaging characters and winning premises. Then there are other books; quiet, simple books with a simple story to tell; books that when you finish, you think that was nothing remarkable, except it left you with a smile on your face. And, really, that was sufficient.
The plot of A Finder’s Magic is so simple it’s almost mundane: Till has lost his precious dog, Bess. He’s heartsick about this, and has trouble sleeping one night. The next morning, a strange little man appears at his gate and announces that he’s a Finder: someone who helps find things (I could use one of these on occasion!). He takes Till through the path of the previous day, and they make it to the meadow where Bess was last seen. Then the Finder begins to work his magic. He gives Till the courage to talk to the old ladies — Miss Gammer and Miss Mousey — who live in the meadow. He gathers information from the other creatures in magical and mysterious ways. And they do find Bess (was there much doubt?) in a wholly unexpected way.
Still, despite the plain plot, the book has a certain charm. Much of this is garnered from the inscription: Philippa Pearce wanted to write a book for her two grandsons, and wanted to collaborate with her grandson’s other grandmother: Helen Craig. They came up with an idea, and as soon as she passed it off to Helen, Philippa died. It’s a touching little love story to her grandchildren, a legacy of imagination left in words. But the charm also lies in Helen Craig’s beautiful watercolor (I’m assuming) illustrations, and in the simplicity of the story itself.
I’m not sure who would want to pick this up — it doesn’t really scream “read me” (though I picked it up on a whim because of the lovely cover). However, I do think it would make a lovely read-aloud to a younger child. Which is maybe what it’s really meant for.