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The Wizard's Map    by Jane Yolen order for
Wizard's Map
by Jane Yolen
Order:  USA  Can
Magic Carpet, 2002 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jane Yolen writes skillfully as always in this first of a Tartan Magic series (aimed at middle school readers) that continues with The Pictish Child. As well as the story, she provides an introduction to Scotland and to Scottish dialect (words like bairn are listed in a glossary at the end). Twins Jennifer and Peter, and their four-year-old sister Molly, accompany their parents on a summer visit to Fairburn, a little town at the foot of the Scottish Highlands. There they will stay with their Mom's older cousins who helped raise her after her parents died.

There's something very odd about Gran's home, from the large tangled forest enclosed in her walled garden to the unusual things that appear and disappear in her attic, including a game of Patience that plays on its own. Molly finds a map that has magical properties - when she draws circles on it, the same wobbly shapes show up as crop circles in a local farmer's fields. Gran speaks of seven different kinds of magic and tells the twins that the map belonged to an evil wizard named Michael Scot, who can move through time. It shows his dominion and holds much of his power, rather like a 'magical bank account'.

Scot shows up and steals first Molly and then all the adults. Jennifer and Peter are on their own, and must solve the riddle of the map and the attic Patience games, in order to save those they love. Jennifer copes by seeing Scot as just another 'school bully', and she has already learned how to handle them. She gains some help from a dog, a dragon and a unicorn, all ensorcelled by the wizard, and must face her fears by going into an underground cave and confronting their enemy. The Wizard's Map is a delightful, magical work of fantasy, accessible to younger teens. It looks like the start of a great series.

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