The Magic Carpet by Jessica Norrie
Outer London, September 2016, and neighbouring eight-year-olds have homework: prepare a traditional story to perform with their families at a school festival. But Nathan’s father thinks his son would be better off doing sums; Sky’s mother’s enthusiasm is as fleeting as her bank balance, and there’s a threatening shadow hanging over poor Alka’s family. Only Mandeep’s fragile grandmother and new girl Xoriyo really understand the magical powers of storytelling. As national events and individual challenges jostle for the adults’ attention, can these two bring everyone together to ensure the show will go on?
Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.6-Stars
If you see the title of this work and think, ‘ah another fantasy work.’ You’ll be forgiven. After the title “the magic carpet” may certainly cause you to think that and while the book does involve the magic of the mind, just as reading rainbow talked about being higher than a butterfly, the concepts and themes in this book are more universal than mere fantasy.
The themes of cultural identities and cultural integration, and the struggle for immigrants to balance their own family history and traditions with their desire to ‘fit in’ with those around them are sensitively explored from a variety of different perspectives, giving plenty of food for thought, especially in our current social context.
The other overarching theme is that of the importance of stories and storytelling. The importance of ‘own voice’ story experiences, the unity of collaborating on stories; the way stories can be written and rewritten to shape reality into different patterns and change the way we think about the challenges we — and others — face.
More than a morality tale, though, this story paints a warm picture of each different family environment: their individual struggles and successes, dreams, and fears. The characters feel like friends and neighbours, and I was thoroughly invested in what happened to them.
This is a beautiful, skillfully-crafted tale that entertains and moves the reader, and really makes you think about respect, diversity, and what these things mean to different people. And, of course, it is perfect for anyone who loves a good story.
Diane Andersen’s Review: 5-Stars
Although it sounds like the title for a fantasy novel or a retelling of the Aladdin tale, Norrie’s novel is firmly set in real-world London of the 21st century. Weaving together a rich tapestry of characters, cultures, and world views, The Magic Carpet looks at the issues of immigration and the complexities of an integrated neighborhood coming together through a school project.
School children aged seven and eight years old are tasked with retelling an assigned fairy tale using whatever resources are at their disposal, including their own family members. Throughout the story, the reader becomes better acquainted with a few of these families, including multi-generational and single-parent families, all finding parallels between the themes of each fairy tale to their real-world lives. The final triumphal moment of the children’s performances brings it all together perfectly. It’s a charming and uplifting story for those interested in fairy tales or anyone who has ever been part of a family.
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