Mode

kid

parent

The Magical Imperfect

by: Chris Baron  

Ages

10+
Etan hasn’t spoken since his mom left. Malia stopped going to school when kids started calling her The Creature. Could a mysterious jar of clay be the solution to their problems?
Ages 10+
Pages 336
Publisher Macmillan
Coming Sep 2021
Awards
Junior Library Guild Selection
Booklist Starred Review

Average Rating

71 Reviews
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What the Book Is About

Etan Hirsch stopped speaking when his mother went away. His father and grandfather aren’t sure how to help him, and his friends at school have given up on him. When Etan makes a delivery to a house at the edge of town, he meets Malia Agbayani, the girl kids used to call “the creature” because of her bad eczema. As the two become friends, Etan shares his drawings with Malia, while she sings for him. Meanwhile, Etan discovers his grandfather’s jar of clay from the old country. His grandfather tells him that the clay has magical healing properties, and Etan wonders if he can use it to help Malia.
 
The Magical Imperfect is set in the fall of 1989 in the San Francisco Bay Area, against the backdrop of the World Series and the Loma Prieta earthquake. Written in verse, this beautiful story explores how the magic of friendship can help a boy find his voice, a girl reconnect with her community, and a family reunite with each other and their Jewish heritage.
 

Jewish Content & Values

  • Etan and his family are Jewish. Etan’s grandfather, Jacob, immigrated from Prague. He’s committed to Judaism and encourages his son and Etan to attend synagogue and observe the high holidays.
  • Jacob's magical clay was once used to make a golem, a monster created from mud in order to protect and defend the Jewish people. Etan uses the mud to help heal Malia’s eczema.
  • After his mother returns home, Etan and Malia organize a Shabbat dinner for the entire community.

Positive Role Models

  • Etan Hirsch is a curious, compassionate child who is committed to his family and friends.
  • Etan’s Grandfather, Jacob Hirsch, is a loving man who is committed to Judaism and encourages Etan to find his voice.
  • Malia Agbayani is a brave and resilient girl who conquers her fears and follows her dreams.

Content Advisory

Although this book touches on a number of intense themes, such as Etan’s mother’s stay in a psychiatric unit, antisemitism, and the challenges of immigration, it does so in age-appropriate ways. Etan’s grandfather suffers from chronic respiratory illness, and there is a major earthquake during which they are worried about his health and everyone’s safety. Malia struggles with her eczema, at times scratching at her skin until it bleeds. She leaves school after being bullied and being called “the creature,” but she ultimately returns to school. Finally, while the earthquake caused significant damage to the community, no one in the story is seriously injured.

Talk It Over

If you had magical clay that you could use to build a creature that would solve a problem in your life or in the world, what kind of creature would you build and what problem would you solve?
 

More for You

In Jewish folklore, a golem is a mute creature created from clay, often for the purpose of protecting or defending the Jewish people. In some traditions, the golem is brought to life when the Hebrew word for truth, emet (אמת), is written on its forehead. The golem could then be destroyed by removing the aleph (א) in emet, thereby changing the inscription from "truth" to "death" (met מת).
What the Book Is About

What the Book Is About

Etan Hirsch stopped speaking when his mother went away. His father and grandfather aren’t sure how to help him, and his friends at school have given up on him. When Etan makes a delivery to a house at the edge of town, he meets Malia Agbayani, the girl kids used to call “the creature” because of her bad eczema. As the two become friends, Etan shares his drawings with Malia, while she sings for him. Meanwhile, Etan discovers his grandfather’s jar of clay from the old country. His grandfather tells him that the clay has magical healing properties, and Etan wonders if he can use it to help Malia.
 
The Magical Imperfect is set in the fall of 1989 in the San Francisco Bay Area, against the backdrop of the World Series and the Loma Prieta earthquake. Written in verse, this beautiful story explores how the magic of friendship can help a boy find his voice, a girl reconnect with her community, and a family reunite with each other and their Jewish heritage.
 

Jewish Content & Values

  • Etan and his family are Jewish. Etan’s grandfather, Jacob, immigrated from Prague. He’s committed to Judaism and encourages his son and Etan to attend synagogue and observe the high holidays.
  • Jacob's magical clay was once used to make a golem, a monster created from mud in order to protect and defend the Jewish people. Etan uses the mud to help heal Malia’s eczema.
  • After his mother returns home, Etan and Malia organize a Shabbat dinner for the entire community.

Positive Role Models

  • Etan Hirsch is a curious, compassionate child who is committed to his family and friends.
  • Etan’s Grandfather, Jacob Hirsch, is a loving man who is committed to Judaism and encourages Etan to find his voice.
  • Malia Agbayani is a brave and resilient girl who conquers her fears and follows her dreams.

Content Advisory

Although this book touches on a number of intense themes, such as Etan’s mother’s stay in a psychiatric unit, antisemitism, and the challenges of immigration, it does so in age-appropriate ways. Etan’s grandfather suffers from chronic respiratory illness, and there is a major earthquake during which they are worried about his health and everyone’s safety. Malia struggles with her eczema, at times scratching at her skin until it bleeds. She leaves school after being bullied and being called “the creature,” but she ultimately returns to school. Finally, while the earthquake caused significant damage to the community, no one in the story is seriously injured.

Talk It Over

If you had magical clay that you could use to build a creature that would solve a problem in your life or in the world, what kind of creature would you build and what problem would you solve?
 

More for You

In Jewish folklore, a golem is a mute creature created from clay, often for the purpose of protecting or defending the Jewish people. In some traditions, the golem is brought to life when the Hebrew word for truth, emet (אמת), is written on its forehead. The golem could then be destroyed by removing the aleph (א) in emet, thereby changing the inscription from "truth" to "death" (met מת).