Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine

Title: Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Publisher: Collins
Date: September 2006
ISBN-13: 9780060519605

Summary: In this book, bestselling young adult author Gail Carson Levine gives her tips about the craft of writing.  It’s like participating in a writer’s workshop in a book!  Levine offers advice about every stage of the writing process, from coming up with ideas to creating characters, writing dialogue, making revisions, and even how to get your work published!  She is very clear with the message that we should never discard any of our writing, even if we don’t like it, because we never know when we might want to revisit it – she advises waiting 15 years before tossing anything out!  Her advice to write often, whether or not it is any good, will hopefully allow teens to be less self-conscious about their work.  Each chapter ends with a handful of writing exercises and prompts which are meant to be worked on and built up as you progress through the book (for instance, a practice dialogue that you write for one chapter is revisited later when you add information like body language to the scene).

Critical Evaluation: When you want to improve a certain skill, you want to make sure that you’re taking advice from someone who knows that subject well.  That’s why it’s so great that Gail Carson Levine has written this writing guide – teens will know her from her books like Ella Enchanted and Fairest and will trust her tips about writing.  In addition to offering sound advice and providing creative prompts to practice on, Levine also shared examples from her life and writing career, making the information more personal and keeping this book from feeling too much like an English lesson.  You can tell that she really wants to nurture young writers – she is adamant that we shouldn’t discourage ourselves or be overly critical of our writing, and even asks us to let her know if we are writing so that she can root for us.  Overall, a great and informative read with practical advice for writers of all ages (but particularly young adults) that would be a strong addition to any library collection.

Reader’s Annotation: Bestselling young adult author Gail Carson Levine shares some of her tricks of the trade for aspiring young writers.

Author Information: “Gail Carson Levine grew up in New York City and has been writing all her life.  For many years, she has taught creative writing to children in a workshop that inspired this book.  Gail’s first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a 1998 Newbery Honor Book.  Her other books include Fairest; Dave at Night, and ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults; The Wish; The Two Princesses of Bamarre; and her Princess Tales books.  She is also the author of the picture book Betsy Who Cried Wolf, illustrated by Scott Nash.

Gail, her husband, David, and their Airedale, Baxter, live in a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse in the Hudson River Valley of New York State.” (Biographical Information from the jacket of Writing Magic)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Writing

Curriculum Ties: Creative Writing

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Did you practice writing with the prompts throughout the book?  Which exercises did you find difficult?  Which came naturally?
2) Do you have a friend that you trust to give you constructive feedback on your writing?
3) Would you be interested in starting or joining a writer’s group?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: None.

Challenge Defense Ideas: This book has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist available for viewing on

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: I chose this book because I love Gail Carson Levine’s work and I thought her advice on writing would be invaluable to aspiring young adult writers.


Gail Carson Levine’s website and blog.


May 10, 2010 - Posted by | Books | ,

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