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The Magical Imperfect

4.83  ·  Rating details ·  52 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Liz Szabla at Feiwel and Friends has bought All of Me author Chris Baron's Made of Clay. Set against the backdrop of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake in a town of refugees who came to America via Angel Island, the middle grade novel in verse is about a boy who is selectively mute and a girl who won't leave her house because of a skin condition and the magical Jewish clay ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: June 15th 2021 by Feiwel Friends
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Average rating 4.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  52 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Rajani LaRocca
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful novel in verse about community, family, and forgiveness, featuring baseball, 80s music, and the magic that binds all these things together. Etan and Malia's burgeoning friendship helps them reach past the things that are hurting them to find healing and joy. ...more
Rebecca Balcárcel
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kid-lit, reviewed
Satisfying as homemade challah, this book brings the reader to the San Francisco area of 1989 and celebrates family and community. Periodic earthquake tremors remind the reader that nothing is perfectly stable, least of all the life of a middle-schooler who has decided not to speak and his friend who is homeschooled to avoid being called "the creature" by classmates. With poignant relationships between elders and kids, brave moves to help one another, emotional risks, and a bit of old world magi ...more
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, kids, poetry
When you don’t talk a lot
I think your ears get stronger.
—Chris Baron, The Magical Imperfect

This novel in verse tells a heartfelt story of friendship, family, and community. The writing is absolutely beautiful, and I was rooting for Etan from on the very first page.

As much as I was wrapped up in the story and wanted to keep turning pages, found myself purposely reading slowly just so I could savor the language. The above passage is one of my favorites in the book.

I loved the relationships and
Sam Subity
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Magical Imperfect was the perfect read to end 2020 with its themes of resilience and working together to overcome despite difficult circumstances and tragedy. I love how the author's gentle verse descriptions of even the most mundane objects like a tree or a pool of water make you feel like you've been looking at the world your whole life but not really seeing it.

For those who have read about or maybe even lived through the 15 seconds that rocked San Francisco on October 17, 1989, the certa
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful and unique novel in verse that highlights courage, healing, and the power of friendship.

I loved all of the intricate details and thoughtfulness surrounding each of the characters and the ways they responded to each other- one character dealing with severe eczema, a character that is hospitalized due to depression and another character that is labeled a “selective mute” to name a few. So much character development is woven throughout the story. The 80s references were also fu
Ben Gartner
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a powerhouse of a novel-in-verse. I've been reading quite a lot of action adventure type stories lately and when I started this book, I thought it would stay in the more emotional, ethereal realm (I guess that may be my baggage with the "in-verse" tag). Boy was I surprised!

Not only did this book capture the emotions and life-view of middle graders immensely well, it also had a lot of intrigue, mystery, excitement, and a dash of magic. I was sucked right in and smitten. It is definitely
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an eARC through NetGalley.

The Magical Imperfect is a beautiful Middle-Grade novel told in verse and takes place before and after the San Francisco Earthquake in 1989. Books in verse aren't typically my first choice, but the first few pages hooked me. The narrator, Etan, is dealing with various issues, one of which is selective mutism. His mother has gone away to get help for her mental illness, and he is having a hard time adjusting. While running an errand for a shop keeper, he meet
Ms. Yingling
Apr 28, 2021 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Etan lives north of San Francisco in 1989. His father and grandfather have a jewelery store, and his mother is currently in the hospital as the result of some mental health issues. To cope with this, Etan is not able to speak most of the time. This causes his friends with whom he plays baseball to distance themselves from him, and his family's social circle, with whom they frequently celebrate Shabbat, has dwindled. Upstairs neighbor Mrs. Hershkovitz (whose dog Etan wa
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book.

I couldn't wait to read THE MAGICAL IMPERFECT because I loved the author's debut book, ALL OF ME. This upcoming release is also a novel in verse, written with the same compassion that brings his characters to life.

Etan has found speaking very hard since his mom left for an extended stay in a hospital to focus on her mental health issues. He's distanced himself from his best friend, and tries to avoid situations where where he mi
Elza Kinde
My mixed feelings about The Magical Imperfect lead me to break my review format a bit so as to expand on some of the things I think should be discussed in more depth.

~the dragon mailbox
~Filipino characters in Historical fiction
~magic clay
~the '89 World Series
~misfits finding friendship

~While initially excited to see this book had main characters who were dealing with different types of disability, I was disappointed with how they were presented. There is a common thread of "how do we
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Magic and wonder can be found in the world—as long as one knows where to look. Etan and Malia stand out in their small community outside of San Francisco in the late 1980s. After his mother goes to a mental health hospital, Etan finds that he can no longer talk as freely as he once could. Malia, or The Creature as she is known, suffers from extreme eczema and is sequestered inside her house. When the two become unlikely friends, their bond helps them look beyond their insecurities to find a worl ...more
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing

The 1989 San Francisco earthquake is the backdrop of this tale told in verse about two middle schoolers who, through their friendship, find the strength to face the world. Through Chris Baron’s rich description, we feel the frequent tremors that are ALMOST everyday occurrences, but are still very disturbing, as well as the feverish excitement in their small, close knit town about both of the local baseball teams making the World Series. We also get to know Etan and Malia. Etan’s mother has left
Melanie Dulaney
The Magical Imperfect is a heart-warming blend of realistic “magic” and lessons on friendship and acceptance plus tough issues like mental illness and medical conditions that manifest in physical imperfections. All this and in the novel-in-verse format that has become so popular with my middle grade readers! Main character Etan has gone mute since his mother entered a hospital to learn how to cope with her worsening mental illness. His father and grandfather are both supportive in their own way, ...more
Reem Faruqi
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Magical Imperfect is a dreamy story that highlights friendship, family, and love. Through Etan's adventures, I felt my heart swelling for the lengths one would go for a friend. I was reminded of the healing power of friendship.

I admired Etan's pride in his faith, his love for his grandfather, and his quiet adoration of his parents. I was rooting for Etan's voice from the first page. I also found myself finding solace in what Etan did - ice cream and trees! This story will make you look at t
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Exquisite novel in verse by an author at the top of his craft. There were times I had to stop to repeat a line over again because it was just so perfect, but then I was immediately swept back into the story. This is a book you want to finish in a single sitting. Aside from the gorgeous verse, the story itself is a masterful integration of culture, history, and health condition representation. Chris manages to tie in the historical events surrounding the San Francisco Bay earthquake of 1989 with ...more
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Chris Baron's verse gives voice to kids who feel separate from the world in one way or another, and he does it with such tenderness and sensitivity. THE MAGICAL IMPERFECT is no exception. Etan and Malia are both such compelling characters, and as a pair they just shine. The portrayal of magic in their natural world - trees, rivers, clay, earthquakes - is heartbreakingly gorgeous, and I adored the way Etan's family history is such a rich part of both his life and the larger message of the story. ...more
Jenny Adelman
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC of THE MAGICAL IMPERFECT. This book is indeed magical. Told in-verse, you can’t help but root for the characters from the beginning. Etan hasn’t spoken since his mother left to focus on her mental health. Malia has been homeschooled since the bullying got so bad due to her eczema. These two form a friendship that allows the other to be heard and seen. I loved the tie in of the 1989 San Francisco earthquakes, baseball and music- it helped show ...more
Jess Redman
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was thrilled to get an ARC of Chris Baron's newest middle-grade novel-in-verse, THE MAGICAL IMPERFECT!

“We look at the pool
and across it
into the depths of forest,
both of us looking for something
we hope is real.”

Wise, gentle, and full of energy & fun, this is a story about community, friendship, traditions, immigration, mental health, chronic medical conditions, golems, earthquakes, baseball, finding your voice...and Cyndi Lauper. I will be singing “Time After Time” for the next week at least, a
Chris Tebbetts
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Chris Baron brings together a great mix of disparate ingredients and characters to tell a story that is both eclectic and cohesive at the same time. The poetry of this verse novel flows like water, and the hint of magic from the title is never too far out of reach. All that and an earthquake, too! As someone who well remembers that day in 1989, when a quake interrupted the World Series, there was a compelling sense of foreboding as I read along, waiting to see how it played out on the page when ...more
Rebecca Morrell
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this novel in verse. It takes place right before the Bay Area earthquake of 1989 that we watched as it happened at the World Series. Etan is struggling to find his voice when his mom leaves. He meets a friend named Malia that is struggling to feel comfortable in her own skin figuratively and literally. I love the mixture of faith and messages of hope we all need right now.
Teachers will love the poetry that can easily teach skills and strategies to middle grade readers. Kids w
Kimberly Gabriel
Mar 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Written in verse and set in San Francisco in 1989, The Magical Imperfect explores themes of friendship, community, cultural heritage, and both physical and mental illness. Both the writing and the character development are stunning, and I found myself fully immersed in Etan's and Malia's journeys. Baron also includes perhaps the most beautiful description of "shyness" that I've ever read in a poem that should be made into a poster and hung in classrooms to celebrate our shy students with beautif ...more
Apr 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Beautiful novel-in-verse story of friendship set in 1989 San Francisco Bay area. Etan cannot seem to find his voice since his mom was hospitalized. He does love the comfort of his grandfather's shop. A local shopkeeper asks him to make a delivery. When he does, he discovers a dragon mailbox and a great friend, Malia. Malia is schooled at home due to a severe skin disorder. Etan and Malia are able to open up to each other and become close friends, each giving the other courage to face their fears ...more
Jenni Walsh
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
What a beautiful, magical book. I very much enjoyed my early read of THE MAGICAL IMPERFECT.

Each time I read a novel in verse, I'm reminded how much I love this style of writing -- and Chris does it so well! He had me from the very first pages. I loved the family, the community, the kindness, the traditions, the hope, the magic, and how the characters face their fears by supporting one another.⁠

I'll eagerly be awaiting more from Chris! Put this on your tbr, friends!⁠
Karol Silverstein
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The gentle unfolding of character and emotion through evocative verse from Baron's 2019 debut is once again on full display here in The Magical Imperfect. The juxtaposition of Etan and Malia's small tremors of growth with San Francisco's devastating 1989 earthquake is genius. Themes of love, culture, baseball and just a touch of magic . . . or is it faith? . . . make this a wonder and wonder-filled read. ...more
Mar 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Magical Imperfect is a perfectly magical book about Etan, a boy with selective mutism, and Malia, a girl with severe eczema, the friendship that grows between them, and their efforts to solve their problems with Etan's grandfather's Jewish clay with mystical properties. Set against the backdrop of the 1989 World Series and San Francisco earthquake, and told in verse, this is a wonderful story about community, friendship, and family. ...more
Jennifer Guyor Jowett
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Novels in verse are a favorite and this one lands right at the top. Chris Baron shares a beautiful story of healing and strength. I loved seeing the friendship that develops between Malia and Etan as well as getting glimpses into their cultural backgrounds and the magic found in the world around them.
Mar 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that sticks with you after you finish reading it. I felt right at home among the Redwoods of California in 1989. The multi-generational characters work their way into your heart, and the complex challenges they face keep you turning the page. Thank you for sharing this book with #bookposse!
Apr 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Sweet novel in verse that middle grade readers will enjoy! Etan and Malia spark a true friendship by quickly recognizing that what makes them unique from others also makes them strong and amazing individuals. This strength and faith in one another spreads throughout their close-knit community. Started and finished in one day - engrossing story not to be missed!
Jennifer Hottinger
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Malia and Etan look to be brave and together their story weaves itself into your heart! Absolutely love the relationships, community connections, faith, friendship, and family throughout this novel in verse! Oh-and the 80’s music mentioned brought me back to my childhood!
Feb 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
So much to unpack! Mental illness, prejudice, immigration, bullying, friendship—the list goes on. Chris Baron knows exactly which issues face MG readers and writes about them in an accessible, heartfelt, and beautiful way. You should buy this for your library or classroom. Students will love it!
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Baron is the author of ALL OF ME a middle grade novel in verse from Feiwel and Friends Spring 19. His next book, a MG novel in verse, THE MAGICAL IMPERFECT comes out June 2021. His first book of poetry, Under the Broom Tree, was released in 2012 on City Works Press as part of Lantern Tree:Four Books of Poems, which won the San Diego Book Award for best poetry anthology. He grew up in New York City ...more

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