Gumluck the Wizard is a charming chapter-book character with some humorous misapprehensions.
The Story of Gumluck the Wizard (Book One) by Adam Rex. Chronicle Books, 2023, 133 pages.
Reading Level: Chapter Book, ages 6-8
Recommended for: ages 4-8 as a read-aloud, 7-10 for independent readers
On Mondays, Gumluck receives visitors from town asking for help. One needs a new dress and another wants a muscly physique, and the little wizard uses magic to grant their wishes. But they’re never grateful because Gumluck always grants wishes in his own peculiar way. Not on purpose–he’s just a noodlehead. Or that’s the opinion of Helvetica, the Raven telling his story. Helvetica, readers might notice, is a tad critical, but also a sharp observer whose observations hit painfully close to the mark: the arrogant prince, for example, who “looks like a fancy toilet brush.”
Gumluck starts out on Helvetica’s bad side when he destroys her nest while trying to make his hill higher (no time to explain). But by the book’s end she’s an ally against the unsympathetic townspeople, and the two are friends: “the real treasure in life.”
Gumluck the Wizard stars a most loveable character who gets things wrong with the best intentions. It’s a delightful read-aloud with a simple theme about friendship, but a much knottier theme about truth-telling. Gumluck, and other characters, believe things about themselves that aren’t true. Would it be a good deed to disabuse them of false notions, or is there such a thing as a “good lie”? Is “the truth only good when it helps,” and if so, what qualifies as “helping”? Simply helping people feel good? What’s the difference between telling a fat person he’s fat and telling a lost person she need Jesus? Is all truth the same? If readers or listeners are old enough to talk about it, these are excellent themes for discussion. If not, you may want to read the book yourself (it’s short) before sharing.
Gumluck often “screws up,” according to his neighbors. Be advised if you don’t want your kids using that expression.
Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Worldview/moral value: 3.5
Artistic/literary value: 4.5
Read more about our ratings here.
Also at Redeemed Reader:
Reviews: Written or illustrated by Adam Rex: School’s First Day of School, The Dirty Cowboy
Reviews: Other light-hearted fantasy books: Tuesdays at the Castle, A Dragon Used to Live Here,
Resource: More great chapter books! Under the Reviews tab, click “Easy Readers” and scroll away! (Look especially for starred reviews.)
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