Books About Magicians and Carnivals

You don’t have to look any further than AGT to know Americans love magic. Magician Shin Lim stole the show in 2018 and Americans voted him the winner. If you think magicians rule, check out these fantasy and realistic middle grade books.

FANTASY

The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris

Since his parents died when he was a toddler, Carter’s been trailing around the country with his Uncle Sly, entertaining people with magic and swindling them out of their possessions. Carter refuses to be an accomplice in his uncle’s schemes, so he runs away. It turns out that his uncle isn’t the only one using magic to con people. 

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Micah’s grandfather Ephraim is dying. Many years ago, Ephraim performed a trick for a magician at the Circus Mirandus. In appreciation, he granted Ephraim a miracle. Instead of taking the miracle, he saved it. Now, when he can no longer get out of bed, he wants to cash in his miracle and he needs his grandson’s help.

Hocus Pocus Hotel by Michael Dahl

Abracadabra Hotel was built by a magician who installed trick mirrors all over the place. Ty’s parents own the hotel, and there are some strange things going on, including a missing magician. Ty needs Charlie and his photographic memory. The problem is that Ty is a bully. Should Charlie help a bully?

Carmer and Grit by Sarah Jean Horwitz

Carmer III is a magician’s apprentice who convinces his master to enter a magic competition in the city. Grit is a royal fairy with only one wing. Their paths cross when Grit mistakes Carmer for a friend of the fairies. He’s not a friend of the fairies. He, like everyone else, didn’t realize fairies exist. Since she’s blown her fairy cover, she elicits Carmer’s help in stopping the Wingsnatchers.

Magicians of Elephant County by Adam Perry

Duncan and Emma are 12-year-old magicians. Obviously, they don’t believe in magic. Then the bully incident happens and Duncan ends up on the front porch of the “witch’s” house. No one truly believes a witch lives there, but after one encounter with her, Duncan is a believer. His interaction with her sets off a series of disastrous events. 

The Marvelwood Magicians by Diane Zahler

Mattie and her family each have a different supernatural talent. Mattie reads minds, her brother disappears, her mother sees the future, her father brings forth objects. They work the carnival circuit, but something is different this time. Employees are mysteriously losing their talents. 

REALISTIC

Dreidels on the Brain by Joel Ben Izzy

It’s 1971. Joel is Jewish. Unlike his brothers, he gets in front of it with his gift of storytelling and soon he has everyone wishing they were Jewish. He even gets the popular girl to become his magician’s assistant. Everything’s going his way until the principal asks his family to do a Hanukkah presentation at the Winter Assembly.

Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch

A prank gone wrong. A misunderstood kid. Weird parents. Juvenile delinquent camp on a deserted island. Fellow campers and counselors with unconventional personalities. A little survival skill. A whole lot of feeling like you’re the only one not in on a big secret.

Carnival of Wishes and Dreams by Jenny Lunquist

Several girls receive a pumpkin gram with the message “Come to the Carnival of Wishes and Dreams. Meet me at the Ferris wheel at midnight. We’ll ride it together.” The message is unsigned and none of the girls know that her friends received the same pumpkin gram. Takes place over one day in alternating perspectives of three friends, Audrey, Harlow and Grace.


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