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Utah author's 'Like Magic' beautifully explores growth and friendship

"LIKE MAGIC," by Elaine Vickers, HarperCollins, $16.99, 272 pages (f) (ages 8-11)

Utah author Elaine Vickers has released her debut middle-grade novel "Like Magic," which is perfect for young readers with creative minds.

Three 10-year-old girls, Grace, Jada and Malia, are dealing with big adjustments in their lives. Extreme introvert Grace worries about the new school year after her best friend moved away; Jada longs for her mother to come back into her life after being absent for years; and Malia fears that her family will never be the same when her baby sister is born.

With help from a thoughtful librarian, a mysterious treasure box finds its way to the girls. As they each take treasures from the box and leave one in return, the girls begin to find solace amid the changes in their lives, but they also find hope for new friendships as their lives begin to intertwine with one another's.

Using Salt Lake City as the backdrop for this sweet story, Vickers has delicately written three unique characters, each with her own voice and interests. The girls have diverse backgrounds, yet share a similar love for the arts — music, writing and art. Jada, Malia and Grace deal with the big changes in their lives with strength and authenticity. This, as well as struggling through the apprehension of starting fifth-grade at a new school, make these girls relatable and likable. Readers will find themselves rooting for the trio to overcome.

Vickers uses popular Salt Lake City landmarks such as the Salt Lake City Library and The Cathedral of the Madeleine to further draw readers into the setting while creating vivid descriptions to make the scenes come to life.

"Like Magic" is geared toward middle-grade readers ages 8-12 but is enjoyable for any age. It doesn't contain any objectionable language, sexual content or violence.

Vickers lives in southern Utah with her husband and three children.

If you go ...

What: "Like Magic" launch party with Elaine Vickers

When: Tuesday, Oct. 18, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Where: Main Street Books, 25 N. Main, Cedar City

Web: elainevickers.com

Wendy is a regular contributor for familyshare.com and does media reviews. She blogs at wendyejessen.wordpress.com and survivorshopeandhealing.wordpress.com. Twitter: WendyJessen Email: wendyjessen26@gmail