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So You Want to Be a Wizard

(Young Wizards #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  25,695 ratings  ·  1,155 reviews
Nita Callahan is at the end of her rope because of the bullies who've been hounding her at school... until she discovers a mysterious library book that promises her the chance to become a wizard. But she has no idea of the difference that taking the Wizard's Oath is going to make in her life. Shortly, in company with fellow beginner-wizard Kit Rodriguez, Nita's catapulted ...more
Hardcover, 323 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1983)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  25,695 ratings  ·  1,155 reviews

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mark monday
So you want to stop being bullied, you just want some time to yourself, to read, to do what you want to do, to even make a friend maybe? You find a book and it tells you how. Your book will take you places. Dealing with bullies after reading this book becomes such a small thing. Being the person you want to be and doing the things you want to do is so much more important!

So you want to learn how to do wizardly things, talk to trees and suchlike, make things happen, meet new beings, maybe find th
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of A Wrinkle in Time
Recommended to carol. by: Allie
Why yes, yes I do.

Based on the title, I expected something rather light and possibly silly. What I got was something more substantial, an old middle-grade book/YA book that suddenly had me recalling A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Somehow I missed this one when I was younger, which is too bad. An enthusiastic review from a friend (thanks, Allie!) alerted me to this deficiency and I decided to rectify it.

"She strolled between shelves, looking at titles, smiling as she met old frie
Tamora Pierce
Nov 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: tween lovers of contemporary fantasy
Recommended to Tamora by: saw it on the shelf
The perfect fantasy novel--there you are in the library, and you pick up one particular book . . . I love Kit and Nita as they struggle with being sloppy and working around their parents as young wizards!
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is sort of an American, dark and urban version of Harry Potter. While browsing shelves at the library, Nita discovers a book with the title "So You Want to Be a Wizard" She takes it as a joke, but it turns out to be the real deal. The spells work and she actually is learning to be a wizard.

It turns out that this is the way wizards are trained. Their textbooks seek out those with the talent. Nita soon finds another wizard named Kit and they go on a really twisted and somewhat scary adventure
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
"Dear Artificer, I’ve blown my quanta and gone to the Good Place!"

I'm so glad that I decided to re-read So You Want to Be a Wizard as part of my self-imposed book challenge for this year. I'd almost forgotten how much I love this book!

In fact, I love it so much that I almost couldn't read it again. At first, I would read a couple of pages and have to put the book down because I'd get all teary and junk. Not because it's sad (although it does have its moments), but because I would remember how mu
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nerds
Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series is an old favorite. I’m pretty sure this is my third time rereading it, and I enjoy it just as much - if not more - each time.

So You Want to Be a Wizard defies age categorization. The protagonist, Nita, is thirteen, and from the outside, everything about the book seems to fit neatly into the middle grade category. But once you start reading, you run into some language and concepts that, when I first read this book as a preteen, went over my head. I would compar
Jul 18, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The magic and wizardry content in this book was just too strange. It's totally possible to write about things that are different from what we experience in this world, but to write them in a way that you understand what's going on. In this book, though she uses analogies that don't help make things any clearer. When I stopped reading, for example, the 2 young wizards are creating a thing to plug a hole in a thing to keep out a grey cloud that they somehow know wants to eat them (clearly I couldn ...more
Apr 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the young readers in my acquaintance complain that there aren't more Harry Potter books to read, I like to suggest this series.
I usually start the campaign with a few questions to get them interested.
"What if kid wizards couldn't tell their families about their powers?"
"What if they had to risk their lives in secret to keep the world safe?"

I find the pre-teen and teen characters in this series to be much more engaging and realistic than the self-centered, clueless and common sense-lacking c
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
Reading this book, I wished I could time travel. I would hand this book to my younger self, when I was Nita's age. Because much as I liked this book as an adult, I know that if I'd first read this in middle school, I would have loved it.

It is a good book, a very good book. I take nothing away from Duane, because I think she hit every mark nearly perfectly. And I did enjoy reading it, even if I'm not hooked. Her system of magic is interesting, basically talking the world into doing what you want
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People from the 1950's, Trash Fantasy lovers, young kids with nothing else to read,
Recommended to Adam by: Mrs. (Sandra?) Laviolette, Alex Katigbak
I started reading this book for the first time when I was grade 8 and I couldn't really get into it. I've finally figured out why.

I'm reading it again because it was in my house and I needed something to read, and the dialogue feels forced and VERY dated. It's almost a condescending mockery of how kids talk. The ideas in it are really interesting, but they're described by thirteen year-olds who talk like little kids, instead of adults, so the magic is being sucked out of... well... the magic.

Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~

It's a children's book, they said.
It's like Harry Potter but in America, they said.
You'll have a good time, they said.


There was a time when this book was about a girl, Nita, getting bullied at school and having her pen stolen - and this was the happy fun times. This book becomes so much more when she hides in a library and finds a book about wizardry. A book that materialized there just for her to di
Lolly's Library
I must've been too busy reading Diana Wynne Jones and Madeleine L'Engle, because I'd never heard of this series growing up. It was only in the past couple of years that it came to my attention. I have to say, I'm not all that impressed. Part of the problem is the fact that the book feels dated. Usually when that happens, the story is able to carry me along so that I don't notice things like Dictaphones and typewriters (non-self-correcting ones, at that). Not with this book. I blame most of that ...more
Sep 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
I’ve been told to try these so often that I more or less assumed the recommendation would be apt, and got a bundle of the whole series in one of Diane Duane’s website sales. Unfortunately, something about this doesn’t work for me — I guess it feels too random and immature? Stuff like ‘Fred’, the ‘white hole’, who is the opposite of a black hole, and some of the logic of how magic worked just… I didn’t feel hooked by it. Once I got to the white hole burping up whole cars, I was more or less done; ...more
Bill Khaemba
“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.”  

This was honestly one of the best middle-grade fantasy books, I have ever read :) It was whimsical, magical and so fun :)

I read this series countless times when I was a teenager, but this was always my least favorite of the lot - almost too creepy for me. I was never excited to roam around in this particular world the way I was excited to return to High Wizardry or A Wizard Abroad (though that last one may have something to do with the love interest .... sue me).
Julie Davis
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised at how this book grabbed me in the second half. I couldn't put it down.
Anita Reads
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a fun read. There are things here and there I think could be a little better, but overall this was just such an interesting book with an interesting type of magic. Very highly recommended if you enjoy these sort of young people discovering they are wizards.
Rachel (Kalanadi)
My third reread: loved it.
Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*
Is "middle grade urban fantasy" a thing?

I read this in a collection of the first three novels in this series, titled Support Your Local Wizard and you have gots to see this cover art (embiggen as needed):

Support Your Local Wizard (Young Wizards, #1-3) by Diane Duane

This thing is exemplary of the aesthetic that Stranger Things draws from. I mean, that's basically Barb (RIP) lying on the floor. And those pleated pants! You may be able to see the troll pencil-topper on the right. To me the biggest issue is why they are wearing their running shoes inside
”But you’re wizards, you should know how terrible a power belief is, especially in the wrong hands—and how do you tell which hands are wrong? Believe something and the Universe is on its way to being changed. Because you’ve changed, by believing. Once you’ve changed, other things start to follow. Isn’t that the way it works?”

“..for darkness only made the light seem brighter.”

“We do what we have to, to live. Sometimes that means breaking a rock’s heart, or pushing roots down into a ground that
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Long before Harry Potter, there was Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series, about two lonely tweens who become wizards and best friends in a quest to save the world(s). I devoured these books in middle school, although I didn’t fully understand all of the scientific concepts that the author weaves into the story...including entropy, black holes, string theory, and the lifespan of stars. I just remember being fascinated by the exciting adventures of Kit and Nita. Re-reading this book as an adult, I’m ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christina (A Reader of Fictions) by: Alexa Wang
Conveniently, the very first book chosen for me in my new regular posting series, Sadie Hawkins' Sunday, just happened to be a book I already had in my personal collection. This series first came onto my radar when I was looking for readalikes for Harry Potter. I did enjoy this one (thanks Alexa!) and I'm glad I got a chance to dig into my massive collection of unread books.

The first thing that you should probably know is that this book was first published in 1983, long before Harry Potter. The
Amy Eye
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Everyone one has seen the books like "So you wanna be a (fill in the blank)". Nita gets lucky enough to find one that is to help her along her way to become a wizard! This is the dream of half the children in America. Nita decides she wants to use this book to help her fend off the bullies who constantly beat her up and leave her nursing her wounds and her pride on a daily basis.

One day as she is learning about her new found magical abilities, she runs into Kit, also a new wizard. They put thei
Destinee Sutton
Part of what makes great fantasy is a great setting, i.e. an original other world that feels real even though it's so different from the world we inhabit. I found this book totally lacking in that department. Nita and Kit (whose names and personalities are too similar--I kept getting them mixed up as I read) start in the real world as normal kids. They meet when they realize they're both aspiring wizards and then they go looking for Nita's lost pen and end up in this horrible, dark alternate uni ...more
It's fine, I'm fine, everything's normal, I'm not sniffling about trees, that's you, you're the one staring very intently at the ceiling to deal with your feelings about a car, we are not even talking about the moon and the white hole, which didn't happen, EVERYTHING IS FINE don't look at me.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
1.5 🌟
A dark and urban kind of Harry Potter that's pretty much no fun at all.

The magic is interesting but the language used ranges from the vocabulary of a 6 year old to that of a grown up which makes me really wonder who this book was actually written for.

Because of the vocabulary and writing style that seem to contradict each other, the magic of the magic sort of puffs away and a story that could have been great becomes a parody. :(
Jun 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this book for the first time and finding an entire new world opened up to me. I was ten then, in search, as the main character here was, for something deeper; something fantastic in everyday life. I read this book, the second, and the third in the series in such quick succession that I couldn't believe I'd actually managed to make my brain process the words that fast, and I was hooked forever on fantasy.

Years later I came back to this book and opened it up, and the magic was
Aaron Dettmann
Sep 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
I think this is the worst book I ever read. Only reason I finished it is because it was so short (and even then it took me a while to slog through it). Didn't even realize it was part of a series when I was reading it, as I had forgotten the reason I had checked it out was because the 6th book in the series made the ALA Teen Top Ten List. Very surprised there was enough interest to create a series after this terrible first book. Some highlights:

p. 10: "A wizard's business is to conserve energy
Cait S
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
I wanted to like this. I really did. The beginning was super promising, a totally unique form of magic and how the wizard came across it. I was here for Nita, totally dug the fact that it was a male/female best friendship and they were both PoC. I was here for pretty much everything about this book.

Except for the fact that it is so...incredibly...boring. I quit at about 60% in when my brain was just screaming "ENOOUGH! ENOUGH ALREADY!" every time I thought about picking it up. Scenes were draggi
John Loyd
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nita has been bullied, black eyes and more, by Joanne. She doesn't fight back, only tries to run away. During one of these escape attempts she hides in the library and finds a book she had never seen before--So You Want to be a Wizard--she starts looking through it. If only magic were real... It's a library, she borrows it. A day or two later says the Oath, and the finds her name in the book under novices. After another encounter with Joanne, she can't find her pen. She takes the book into the w ...more
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Diane Duane has been a writer of science fiction, fantasy, TV and film for more than forty years.

Besides the 1980's creation of the Young Wizards fantasy series for which she's best known, the "Middle Kingdoms" epic fantasy series, and numerous stand-alone fantasy or science fiction novels, her career has included extensive work in the Star Trek TM universe, and many scripts for live-action and an

Other books in the series

Young Wizards (10 books)
  • Deep Wizardry (Young Wizards #2)
  • High Wizardry (Young Wizards #3)
  • A Wizard Abroad (Young Wizards #4)
  • The Wizard's Dilemma (Young Wizards #5)
  • A Wizard Alone (Young Wizards #6)
  • Wizard's Holiday (Young Wizards, #7)
  • Wizards at War (Young Wizards, #8)
  • A Wizard of Mars (Young Wizards #9)
  • Games Wizards Play (Young Wizards #10)

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