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Otter Creek Press

The Magic Bicycle, by William Hill

Review by Kyle Zook

Homeschoolers will find much to love about William Hill’s novel, The Magic Bicycle.  In addition to the underlying theme of how having a wonderful imagination can change your life, it also deals with the difficult concept of the death of family members in a way that is positive and uplifting.  And if that isn’t enough, there’s a magical journey through time to visit historical figures in the past that could be used to ignite an interest in history for your child. 

One thing that struck me while reading this novel was how Hill maintained a childlike perspective throughout the novel.  Reading through this book reminded me of the fiction I used to write when I was the novel’s target age, which is around the fourth grade reading level.  Hill really seems to have an insight into youthful thought processes. I imagine children are thrilled to read through this novel, and the fact that there is already a sequel to this book available is a testament to its growing popularity.

From the beginning of the novel Hill weaves his time-traveling adventure like a roller coaster, with dips and thrills happening at every bend.  When protagonist Daniel Chase rescues an alien from possible capture by authorities, the alien Kaye-laye-dee rewards Danny with a magic bicycle made of star metal.  On this magic bicycle (powered by imagination!) Danny can speed from point to point quickly through the conduit of a rainbow bridge, and can travel over any sort of surface, even water.  When Danny pedals backwards to escape the clutches of a school bully, he finds he can even travel backwards in time.

The bicycle has other qualities, too, like the ability to translate the thoughts or words of anyone touching it.  Through this means, Danny is able to talk to his calico cat, Murg, as well as the famous Athenian philosopher, Socrates.  He also travels back in time to meet Ben Franklin, H.G. Wells and Albert Einstein, all to ask about a philosophical dilemma that he feels due to his discovery of the bicycle’s time-traveling capabilities.  As his mother and sister died a year earlier in a tragic auto accident, Danny is faced with the question of whether or not he should attempt to change history and try to save them.

What is great about this book is that it is well-written enough for parents to enjoy reading it along with their children, and adults can ponder over the greater philosophical implications of manipulating the past, while children can just sit back and enjoy the ride of a great piece of entertaining fiction.  The whole family will root for Daniel Chase as he makes a marvelous journey that speaks to the children inside each one of us.

You can find this work as well as many other fine examples of imaginative fiction from William Hill on Otter Creek Press’ web site,♦