In preparation for the Skype visit we won from Laurel Snyder, I'm planning to read several of her books, including the soon to be released "Bigger Than A Breadbox", "Penny Dreadful", and "Up and Down the Scratchy Mountain.". The first I had to read was "Any Which Wall.". As I was also helping my sister to prepare for her wedding, I had some difficulty giving this selection the sustained attention that it deserves, but I did finish. I like the way the chapters were organized around each character's individual wish and adventure. I also love any time an author speaks directly to a reader as Laurel Snyder does in this story. When Roy, Susan, Emma, and Henry find the wall, they have to figure out (a) that it is magic, and (b) its magic rules. Through their travels, they do just that and meet many characters both ordinary (or common) and extraordinary. One of those characters ties it all together from the beginning to the end: Merlin. That's right, Merlin. Merlin had a lot of great lines in "Any Which Wall" and I don't think that, taken out of context, they give too much away, so...here are a few:
"That's very dangerous," said Merlin, shaking his head from side to side, "not thinking."
"You can't expect to be other than you are," said the wizard, "It's a lot of work to pretend....people have to remain who they are. They can change the way they look, their outsides, maybe, but the essence of who they are never changes.... "
"It is everywhere, magic," said Merlin, "Always, and in the commonest places. Only most people don't know what they're looking for."
Laurel Snyder uses an interesting tactic of peeking into the future chapters through an action of the characters seeing a glimpse of their own futures which pertains, in the end, to each of their wall wishes. This keeps the reader predicting and discovering right along with the characters.
I enjoy Laurel Snyder's writing style and am excited to explore her other novels. "Any Which Wall" is a good next step for students who have enjoyed The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne or the baseball card adventure series by Dan Gutman.