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The Magic in Changing Your Stars

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Can you change your fate—and the fate of those you love—if you return to the past? Journey to 1939 Harlem in this time-travel adventure with an inspiring message about believing in yourself.
Eleven-year-old Ailey Benjamin Lane can dance—so he’s certain that he'll land the role of the Scarecrow in his school’s production of The Wiz. Unfortunately, a talented classmate and
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Sterling Children's Books (first published 2020)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"It's an awful feeling to know you didn't give the things you love a true try." p.59 ...more
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ailey Lane is excited to audition for his school's production of "The Wiz." He wants to play the Scarecrow. However, when he gets on-stage for his try-out, he freezes. Not one step or song lyric remains in his head. So, he goes home in humiliation.

That's when his grandfather tells him a story about how he, too, had frozen when he had a chance to audition. He was given a pair of tap shoes by Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and told to come with them at a certain time -- and he chickened out. Benjamin
Dec 15, 2020 rated it liked it
a nice retelling of "Back to the Future" from a different perspective. I began to wonder about the names being used when Mahalia Jackson was the protagonist's classmate who could really sing. This was purely intentional which made the book more meaningful. ...more
Ms. Yingling
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In 2010, Ailey decides to try out for his school's production of The Wiz, and feels that he would make a great Scarecrow. He can't necessarily sing or memorize lines, but he loves to dance, and thinks that that talent, along with his sharp dressing, will be enough. His classmate Mahalia disagrees, and states that SHE is the one who should get the part. When tryouts go badly, Ailey is devastated. His grandfather, whom he adores, counsels him a bit, and alludes to h
Imagene Wonders
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ailey is excited when he learns his school will be putting on a production of The Wiz. He wants to be the Scarecrow, but he freezes at the auditions. But something even worse happens, his grandfather becomes seriously ill. While confiding in him about his auditions, Ailey's grandfather shares a story about his biggest regret: not taking the chance to perform in front of Mr. Bojangles Robinson. This leads Ailey on a time-traveling adventure to change his grandfather's stars.

It was very cool to re
J.L. Slipak
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Can you change your fate—and the fate of those you love—if you return to the past? Journey to 1939 Harlem in this time-travel adventure with an inspiring message about believing in yourself.

Eleven-year-old Ailey Benjamin Lane can dance—so he’s certain that he’ll land the role of the Scarecrow in his school’s production of The Wiz. Unfortunately, a talented classmate and a serious attack of nerves derail his audition: he just stands there, frozen. Deflated and defeated, Ailey confides in his Gra
Sep 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Ailey is set on being the Scarecrow in his schools production of “The Wiz”, which is a retelling of The Wizard of Oz with African American culture. One thing that really appeals to Ailey is the dancing that goes along with Scarecrow’s part. In the real-life movie of “The Wiz”, the scarecrows part is played by Michael Jackson, who we all know is remarkably light on his feet. Unfortunately for Ailey, this part in the play comes with quite a few speaking lines.

He’s got some nice moves but when it
Mar 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Ailey knows he has the moves to make the Scarecrow in his school's production of The Wiz really shine. But at his audition his mind goes blank and he completely chokes. He isn't looking forward to telling his family, but when he gets home there's much bigger problems: his grampa is in the hospital. Grampa tells Ailey about the time he met Bojangles and was given a pair of tap shoes and invited to audition, but he never worked up the courage to try. It's his biggest regret in life. When Ailey fin ...more
Melanie Dulaney
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The basic plot of righting a mistake in the past might make it seem like Leah Henderson’s book will be redundant, a rehash of an over-used storyline, but several factors make “The Magic in Changing Your Stars” unique and well worth the read. First, icons in current and past black history are sprinkled throughout the text, sometimes the names are merely included in passing, but most have a direct connection to the historical figure or are an actual representation of the famous person. Back matter ...more
Jenna Grodzicki
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When Ailey bombs his audition for his school's production of The Wiz, Grampa shares with him the story of his life's biggest regret. A pair of tap shoes with a "smidgen of magic" later, Ailey finds himself in Harlem in 1939 and in front of his then 12 year old Grampa. Ailey knows this is his chance to help Grampa forget his fears, get on that stage, and change his stars. This is a story filled with love, family, hope, tap dancing, rapping, Black Excellence, and a little bit of magic. I especiall ...more
Alex  Baugh
I've always been a fan of Leah Henderson, but this book just didn't work for me. After messing up an audition to play the Scarecrow in The Wiz, his school’s annual play, Ailey, 11, is ready to give up. His grandfather, in the hospital, tells him how he had also give up his dream and lived to regret. He gives Ailey custody of a pair of tap shoes that belonged to Bojangles Robinson, which sends him back to 1939 Harlem, where he tries to change his grandfather’s fate, but learns a lesson about not ...more
Stephanie P (Because My Mother Read)
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for review.

This charming middle grade novel is full of heart and spirit. It follows a boy who loves to dance but freezes up when it is his chance to audition for his dream role in the school musical. After some encouraging words from his grandpa and a shared secret he suddenly finds himself thrown back in time to 1939 Harlem where he has to encourage his grandpa to overcome his fears and prevent a life long regret.

It is a beautiful story of
There is so much to love about the story and its characters that it is hard to know where to begin. Ailey takes center stage, but he isn't the only star of the show. His relationship with his grandfather is special and their bond is palpable. Family dynamics and interactions with kids at school also come across as authentic and genuine. The time travel component of the story is integrated flawlessly. Even though you know it is historical and science fiction, it still feels real and "in the momen ...more
Apr 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: mg
I really liked the time traveling concept of Ailey going back to help his grandfather fix a regret, and I love how noteworthy Black individuals made appearances throughout the story. The list of Blck Excellence at the end was a great addition in identifying these individuals and helping young readers learn why the person was so important. At times, the novel was a little repetitive and wordy, but overall, had a great storyline. At one point, the main character, Ailey, keeps running into problem ...more
Eileen Winfrey
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
Ailey bombs his audition for the school play, as everyone expected he would, and learns that paralyzing stage fright also robbed his beloved Grampa of living out his dreams. Thanks to a hidden family heirloom, Ailey finds himself traveling back in time to a key moment in his grandfather’s life to try and erase what became a lifelong regret.

I was surprised by the storyline and kept reading to see what would happen next. The family scenes in the past and in the future are very cozy and the settin
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
An entertaining read about Ailey who loves to dance and rap, yet freezes with stage fright. This story twists when he discovers Grampa had a dream to tap dance but fear stopped him from trying. In his Gramps' tap dancing shoes, Ailey time-travels back to Harlem in 1939 and changes his grandfather's destiny. Henderson had fun re-purposing the names of famous Blacks throughout the book, and it was fun recognizing them. ...more
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fast-paced, heartwarming, filled with suspense and love and Black excellence. Ailey is a lovable character and I adored his Grampa. All the characters are named for famous Black people, not just dancers like Alvin Ailey, but inventors, historians, authors, politicians, athletes, teachers, entrepreneurs. Perfect for libraries and schools!
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty great book about trying your best (but actually putting forth the effort). I do struggle with the time travel aspect because of the butterfly effect but I’m willing to mostly over look that.
I loved that the author named the characters based off notable Black figures and explained the connections in the back matter.
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
With Harlem and African American history baked into the characters’ names and the plot, Henderson’s main character, Ailey, takes an unexpected trip to 1939 Harlem to meet his grandfather and change a crucial moment in the past so they can both realize their dreams for the future. A little slow to start but fun and full of hope!
Holly Andreason
Apr 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I read this aloud with my 9 and 11 year old kids. My son wasn't sure at first if he'd like a book about tap dancing, but all three of us got sucked into the story and loved it. My daughter was literally cheering at the end for Ailey. A special touch was the list of real-life counterparts to the character's names we read. ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Take a trip back in time to help Ailey change his grampa’s stars.
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sweet, suspenseful, and a celebration of black culture
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
Black excellence, black fantastic, and black family combine for a transformational story of passion and persistence. (from Kirkus Reviews)
The Marvelous Ms. Kaia
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! I love the characters, and the author was very clever with his names! This deserves and award , so hopefully nest year when I go to the library I see this with a Bluestem tag in it. 12+
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
A magical little book about time travel and family.
Wendy Thomas
A fun time-travel tale that takes readers to 1930's Harlem. The everyday diversity and interweaving of the author's "Black Excellence List" into the story make this a highly recommendable book. ...more
Nov 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middlegrade
Sweet middle-grade family story with some time travel, a bit of history (1920's Harlem), and plenty of Black excellence. Plus a beautiful cover. ...more
Blakely Smith
Feb 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was a cute MG read.
Mar 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Back to the Future meets The Wiz!!! If you haven't seen The Wiz, stop reading my reviews!!!!! Joking, but seriously stop. ...more
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Leah has always loved getting lost in stories. When she is not scribbling down her characters’ adventures, she is off on her own, exploring new spaces and places around the world.

Leah received her MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University and currently calls Washington D.C. home.

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