Linda Ashman

children's book author, mom, wife, writing instructor, animal lover, gardener, vegetarian . . .



"A bumbling magician named Maxwell wreaks havoc when he steps in at the last minute to entertain at Louise's birthday party. The disaster unfolds in a series of witty, staccato quatrains. Illustrator Dunnick matches the pace with boisterous cartoons all bustle and panic. Frothy fun." Publishers Weekly

"Magic run amok plagues Louise's seventh birthday party as a substitute magician turns the birthday girl into a rock. Each subsequent word or gesture creates a catastrophic transformation of someone else. Ashman's quatrains include the exclamations of the guests and superbly accelerate the action. Dunnick reveals Maxwell's disastrous magic with watercolor-and-pen cartoon drawings that highlight the fast-moving action and the humor of the performer's mistakes. A funny read-aloud for any collection." School Library Journal

"Page turns are used to great effect, adding suspense and ratcheting up the hilarity. The fast-paced rhyming text deserves to be read aloud and is well matched by Dunnick's mixed media illustrations. Steig's Sylvester and the Magic Pebble may be more poignant a tale, but the birthday rock, with her polka-dot party hat, brings her own quiet dignity to this riotous adventure." Horn Book Magazine

"The humorous tale, told in rhyming verse, will entertain its readers. Its pace and fantastical plot hold the reader's interest while the exaggerated illustrations add to the general mayhem Maxwell creates." Children's Literature

"The playful, rhyming text and cartoon-style illustrations capture the farce of a party out of control. Any kid who's ever wondered, "What if?" at a magic show will enjoy the fun." Booklist

"Use this for a birthday-party readaloud or for a silly celebration any day." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
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From MAXWELL'S MAGIC MIX-UP. Illustrations 2001 by Regan Dunnick. With permission of Simon & Schuster.

Author's Note

It's my sister's seventh birthday.
Entertainer calls in sick.
Poor Louise is brokenhearted.
Better find a back-up quick!

Call the ghost, the clown, the dragon.
Call the circus and the zoo.
Only Maxwell the Magician
Isn't booked today at two.

Party starts. Magician enters.
Hocus Pocus! What a shock!
Stumbles through his incantation . . .
Turns Louise into a rock!

When I was a kid, our birthday parties usually consisted of a few games, a few presents, and some cake. That was pretty much it. As a new mom, it came as quite a shock to me to see how much birthday parties have changed. Now Jackson gets invited to very elaborate, catered events with clowns and magicians and superheroes and dinosaurs and reptile zoos. This is serious business. Which of course made me wonder what would happen if one of these entertainers flubbed big time. Enter Maxwell.

I laughed out loud when I saw Regan Dunnick's sketches for this book. I love the sense of panic and pandemonium he conveys as Maxwell gets increasingly befuddled, and especially love the spread where the birthday rock sits quietly, surrounded by utter chaos.

Teaching Themes: imagination, magic and magicians, birthday parties, humor, stories in rhyme, children's theatre.


Brand New
"A go-to source of calm and comfort." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
In Print
"Altogether delightful." Starred review, KIRKUS
"Excellent advice in a sweet and easy-to-swallow package." KIRKUS
"A memorable first skate by an irresistible imp." Starred review, KIRKUS
"Ashman's concept is both sophisticated and delightful." KIRKUS
"Beautifully crafted and satisfying." Starred Review, BOOKLIST
"Kids will love the colorful paintings while parents will appreciate that it's chock full of facts about the Centennial State." VAIL DAILY
A "lovely reverie on the joys of being alive and being loved." Starred Review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"As pithy and clever as Ogden Nash at his best." Starred Review, KIRKUS
"A splendid bedtime fantasy." KIRKUS
Other Titles
"Ashman's poetic portraits are packed with lots of tasty assonance and alliteration." Starred Review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"Quirky, sarcastic, and rather educational, too." BOOKLIST
"A 10 on the "aw"-inspiring scale." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"A family outing gone hilariously awry." BOOKLIST
"A rip-roaring, exciting excursion." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
An "enchanting ride." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"The clever, rhyming text bounces along with perfect cadence." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"A riotous adventure." HORN BOOK MAGAZINE
"Vibrant, playful text . . . excellent for storytimes." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"A hilarious look at the world through the sharp eyes and nose of a dog." SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
"This one's a keeper." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"Youngsters will find nothing but comfort in these pages." KIRKUS
"Ashman captures the non-stop action in rollicking rhyme." KIRKUS
A "captivating collaboration." Starred Review, KIRKUS
"A lighthearted look at bad behavior." KIRKUS
Wagmore is "a charming, gentle hero." KIRKUS REVIEWS