HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Magic Hat of Mortimer Wintergreen
Author: Myron Levoy
Cover Illustrator: Tom Newsom
Publisher: iUniverse, republished 2000
ISBN-13: 978-0060238414 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0060238410 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0595093533 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0595093531 Paperback
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 10 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Levoy, Myron. The Magic Hat of Mortimer Wintergreen (Published in 1988 by Harper and Row Junior Books, 10 E. 53rd St., New York City, NY 10022; republished in 1990 as a Harper Trophy edition). It is 1893, and thirteen-year-old Joshua Baines and his eleven-year-old sister, Amy live with their mean Aunt Vootch on a farm in South Dakota. The children’s parents had been accidentally killed near Larison’s Creek by cavalrymen who mistook them for renegade Indians. One day, Joshua and Amy sneak off to see a magic show put on by a traveling salesman named Mortimer Q. Wintergreen. Aunt Vootch catches them, takes them home, and punishes them by chaining them to a fence post in the pigpen over night. They manage to escape and run off with plans to find their grandparents in New York City. Along the way, they team up with the mysterious Wintergreen who is also New York bound and owns an unpredictable but truly magic hat with a temperamental, mischievous mind of its own.
Then the trio finds out that crazy Aunt Vootch is after them. Encountering problems with outlaws, runaway hot-air balloons, geese, and the ever-persistent Vootch, will they make it to New York? If so, do they ever find the grandparents? Can the hat do anything to help? And what happens to Aunt Vootch? Though set in a historical period, this book really isn’t historical fiction due to the element of magic. Is there such a genre as “historical fantasy”? Publishers Weekly calls it “Spoofing many of the conventions of the historical novel.” There are a couple of common euphemisms (i.e., golly, darned) and a few instances of drinking wine and smoking a cigar. Otherwise, The Magic Hat of Mortimer Wintergreen is a comedic romp with a merry and suspenseful chase that kids of all ages will find often humorous and truly entertaining.