The Man Who Was Magic (1968) by Paul Gallico, was recommended to me by my boyfriend, who read one chapter aloud to me before I picked it up myself and began to read it on a train. It was a slim volume, weathered and yellowed with age, and had been one of his favourites as a child, and one of his mother’s favourites before him. I can see why. This isn’t simply a children’s story — I believe it is a fairytale for adults as well.
The premise is that a real magician, a man who himself is magic, comes to a city populated by stage magicians and illusionists, who cannot believe the existence of real magic and fear more than anything to acknowledge the truth of what they see in Adam the Simple’s brand of ‘honest magic’. Adam’s innocence is complemented by his little talking dog Mopsy, who has the common sense for both of them, and tries more or less to keep Adam out of trouble during his time in Mageia, the city of ‘magic’. And during his time there, Adam inadvertently spreads wonder and fear throughout the city.
If you want a glimpse of pure, innocent awe, the reawakening so to speak of the ‘child’s heart’ inside, read this book — it won’t take long, yet its messages of the nature of the world and the magic within everything and everyone, will linger long after you set it down.