Where's My Wand?: One Boy's Magical Triumph over Alienation and Shag Carpeting
This young adult memoir is a slice of the seventies, with unmistakably wild zebra-stripes, conservatively crushed velvet, and shag carpeting. Eric Poole’s witty story is like religion, bell-bottoms, and bullies: it sneaks up on us just when we thought it was outdated. His story, with few exceptions, could have happened yesterday.
Where’s My Wand? vividly illustrates contrasting thoughts and feelings. It amplifies the innately human need for control; the challenges of self-control, self-identity, self-confidence, judgment; and the ultimate triumph that follows when empowerment is achieved. Young readers can relate to Eric’s internal and external struggles with identity and bullies, while slightly older readers also enjoy a nostalgic return to the seventies.
It’s clear that Beaver and the rest of the Cleavers don’t live here, and thankfully, they never will. Eric’s hilariously imperfect family is a perfect example of the unique and quirky ways that people find a sense of control amid the chaos of their lives. The opening scene that ends in Poole’s reraking of the shag carpet is funny and fragile at the same time. It sets the stage for every event that follows in a refreshingly natural sequence. His mother’s socially unacceptable obsessions—taming the wild shag carpeting, and maintaining the museum-like living room—are also funny and fragile.
Eric, who is struggling to find a sense of control and secure his self-identity, finds comfort and peace in the magic of “I Dream of Jeannie.” How many of us can honestly say we never wished we could change our lives or circumstances with the ease and convenience of a wand and a whisper or a twitch of the nose? When Eric plans a pre-emptive strike against Albert Anderson in chapter ten, and carries it out with precision and confidence, readers are aghast and quietly cheering him on.
Eric always finds a way to endure the judgment of others. In these moments, he is weak and strong. He forms an alliance with the armless new girl and tries to become part of the popular crowd. During the most dramatic moments in his story, we see that even Eric is not immune to judging others when he believes he is saving his friend, Billy Foster. It is hilarious and heartbreaking. Eric gradually finds his place and his identity as his story unfolds.
This book is charming, truthful, and entertaining . . . with or without the fringe. Though young Eric seems to be an oddball of sorts, his journey isn’t odd at all. Readers young and old will be thankful for his bold honesty.