Giveaway Winner: What’s the Book That First Made You Believe in Magic?

Cassandra Neace

Staff Writer

Cassandra Neace is a high school English teacher in Houston. When she's not in the classroom, she reads books and writes about them. She prides herself on her ability to recommend a book for most any occasion. She can be found on Instagram @read_write_make

monstrous beauty and crewel

In this giveaway sponsored by Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama and Crewel by Gennifer Albin, we want to celebrate the books and stories that first ignited our imaginations. We asked you to tell us about the book that first made you believe in magic.  

Each of the five finalists will receive a copy of both titles.  Your votes chose the winning entry, and Linda will also receive a $50 gift card to her favorite book retailer.  Congratulations, Linda!

Take a look at her winning entry:

There were likely books that had magic creatures or magical elements in them before this, but the one that really made me believe that magic could happen, that it was possible, was actually a series. It was Mary Poppins. This series (which I received as a BOXED SET, no less) by PL Travers put magic in the real world, even if it was the real world of turn-of-the-century London and not my real world. Because after all, my real world was not so much fun.

I felt sure that if I believed enough, I could pop into a sidewalk chalk painting – why not? This seemed perfectly plausible to me. I thought there might be some tea parties in which the participants floated, possibly. But the thing that clinched it for me were the plasticine people. The little tiny world where the little people lived and they were REAL, even though they were made out of plasticine (to this day, I do believe that is some kind of plastic).

I wanted to go look for those little people in their little world. I don’t know which came first, my love of miniatures or the plasticine people. But to this day, I am fascinated by tiny things, and I constantly conjure up scenarios and stories that occur in those little places.

There was nothing contradictory about the magic in Mary Poppins. I saw no reason why someone could not go UP the banister, why there should not be a hat rack inside a carpet bag, and why an umbrella could not take you places. And the fact that Mary made it sound ridiculous if anyone dared mention it to her later made it all the more delightful – after all, that made it *secret* magic. And secret magic could be anywhere.

I’ll be honest. It was a difficult childhood. Not one that I cared to inhabit for very long at a stretch. There were precious few avenues of escape. We didn’t have a TV, we didn’t go to movies, and there really wasn’t much adult interaction going on. I didn’t have anyone reading to me, and I had very few books. I didn’t have a library close enough to visit – in fact, never went to a library until I was 9. So the books that were gifted to me were read voraciously, almost immediately. Some of them were not that great. But this set, which contained four Mary Poppins titles, was my favorite. (Of course, everyone knows that there were only three visits from the erstwhile nanny, but the fourth book is a collection of stories that occurred during those three visits that were somehow not included in the previous books.)

I loved Mary and everything she stood for. I loved her spunk, her proper-ness, her complete and utter disregard for conformity. When I was about 7 or 8 we saw the movie. I must have received the books just before that. When I was about 35, I bought the movie again – “for my family.” And it was just as magical for me as an adult as it was for me as a child.

That, to me, is perhaps the most magical thing of all.

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