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By Zach King
Eleven-year-old Zach has magical powers…he just hasn’t found them yet.
But when he starts at a regular secondary school with ‘normal’ children, he powers are unlocked and a bit of magic leads to him going viral on YouTube.
It attracts the attention of Rachel, the loveliest girl at school, but with everyone wondering how he does his tricks, and mean girl Tricia plotting a major prank to bring him down, Zach’s got his work cut out to keep his secret and survive Year Seven!
“Just one more try, please?”
Zach King sat on a swivel chair, hunched over a counter full of seemingly ordinary household objects—a light-up yo-yo, an old umbrella, a twenty-four-foot tape measure, a pair of fuzzy dice, and a snow globe from San Francisco. One of these, Zach felt sure, had to be his magical object. He pushed his black hair out of his eyes and looked up at his teacher, who also happened to be his dad. They were in the basement of his home. The Kings lived at the end of a private road, down a long, overgrown gravel driveway, in an ordinary-looking white and red farmhouse. Their home wasn’t hidden, per se, but you definitely had to know where to look if you wanted to find it.
Zach’s parents had converted the downstairs into a classroom for Zach and his younger sister, Sophie. They were both homeschooled, because their family wasn’t like most other families—and Zach and Sophie weren’t supposed to grow up to be like other kids. The Kings were magic. Their entire family—from both of Zach’s parents to his aunts, uncles, cousins, and nephews. Everyone was magical, it seemed, except for Zach. He was already eleven, and try as he might, day after day after day, he had yet to find his magical thing, the object that would unlock his magic abilities.
Zach looked out the sliding-glass window, which offered a view of their backyard. He saw his mother setting up picnic tables for tomorrow’s big family reunion. Zach was absolutely determined to figure out what his magic was before his whole extended family arrived.
“I don’t know.” Mr. King glanced at his old-fashioned wristwatch, a bronze timepiece with a faded engraving of an eagle in the center. It was his father’s magic object. He could use that wristwatch to turn back time. “Maybe we should call it a day. I promised your mother that I’d help her get ready for the party tomorrow.”
“C’mon, Dad,” Zach pleaded. “One more try, that’s all I’m asking for.”
“All right,” Mr. King said, giving in. “I suppose I can make time for one more go.”
Mr. King furrowed his brows and slowly gave his watch dial a turn. Zach felt that familiar static-like tingle as he noticed the clouds outside reverse course and roll back past the sun. The glass of juice that Zach had just drunk filled back up. The apple he’d snacked on became magically whole again. The digital display on the entertainment center started counting backward, while the hands on an antique cuckoo clock turned counter clockwise. A carved wooden cuckoo bird flapped backward above Zach’s head before returning to its house-shaped clock. And like that, Zach and his Dad had a few extra minutes to find Zach’s magic.
He focused his attention on a shiny silver flashlight and lifted it out of the box like he was picking up a sharpened sword.
“This is it,” he said hopefully. “I know it!”
“Maybe,” Mr. King said. “Give it a shot.”
Zach took a deep breath and switched on the flashlight. He swept the beam over everything in sight, waiting for something amazing to happen. He had no idea what exactly he was hoping the flashlight could do, but it had to have some sort of magical power. It had to!
Zach gripped it tightly in both hands. He focused all his energy out of himself and into it, just like his parents had taught him to do. He imagined the flashlight cutting through solid objects like a laser blade and then having X-ray powers. He wanted it so badly to work, but it didn’t. The flashlight was just a flashlight. It just lit things up.
“Oh well,” Mr. King. “It was worth a try.”
“No, wait!” Zach gripped the flashlight even tighter; his hands were starting to hurt.
“Give it time. . . .”
The flashlight’s beam landed on a vacuum cleaner resting in a corner. All at once, the vacuum roared to life.
The vacuum started zooming around the room by itself, its headlights glowing like cat’s eyes. Zach dropped the flashlight.
“Yes!” Zach exclaimed. “I knew it! Look at it go!”
The vacuum was a deluxe model built by one of Zach’s uncles, who was something of a mad-scientist magician. It was way more powerful than the average vacuum. It had been built to clean up even the most dangerous of magical messes. But it had never operated by itself before.
I’m doing this, Zach thought. By magic!
“Are you seeing this?” he asked his dad.
“Uh-huh,” Mr. King said.
Waving the flashlight like a wand, Zach tried to control the self-propelled vacuum cleaner, but he hadn’t yet gotten control of his new powers, he guessed. The machine came charging at him, sucking up dirt and dust and potato-chip crumbs from the carpet as though it was starving.
“Halt! Stop! Whoa!”
“I can’t stop it,” he heard his sister yell.
“What the . . . ,” Zach yelped as he backpedaled and then tripped over his own two feet. The vacuum rammed into him, catching the hem of his pants legs and sucking them right off him. Zach was suddenly on the ground, on his back, in his underwear.
The vacuum cleaner choked and sputtered as the pants got stuck in its suction. It juttered and then shut down with an exhausted sigh and a cloudy dust burp.
“Sophie,” Mr. King said firmly. “That’s enough.”
“What?” Zach said as his little sister appeared out of nowhere, standing behind the vacuum. Sophie was only nine and barely half Zach’s height, but she’d already found her magic. A pair of hot-pink eyeglasses allowed her to be invisible whenever she wanted to.
“Sorry,” she said. “I lost control.”
Zach’s heart sank as he realized that Sophie had been operating the vacuum all along.
The flashlight was just a flashlight, and Zach was still just an ordinary kid.
“You shouldn’t play tricks on Zach like that,” Mr. King scolded Sophie.
“I was just trying to help,” she insisted. “I thought that if he had a little more confidence, it’d help him find his magic.”
“Thanks,” Zach said grumpily, “but I don’t need your help. I’m going to find my magic soon. I can feel it.”
“I know you will, big bro,” she said, rubbing his shoulder. “Don’t give up.”
“Thanks,” Zach said again. He loved his sister. She always meant well and he knew she was always looking out for him, but sometimes Zach wondered who really was the big sibling in the family.
“Daddy,” she said as her father wrenched Zach’s pants free, “if you have to go help Mom get ready for the reunion, I can stay and work more with Zach.”
“I’m good,” Zach said, frowning. “I think I need a break from everyone’s help.” He tossed the useless flashlight in with the other discards.
“I’m sorry, son.” Mr. King patted Zach on the back. “We’ll practice again after the reunion. You just need to be patient.”
Easy for you to say, Zach thought. Most Kings found their magic when they were little kids. It’d been a long time since anyone in their family had been as old as Zach and still had nothing.
He couldn’t help but wonder if he’d ever find his own magic . . . or if it wasn’t already too late for him.
A debut middle-grade series from the mega-talented Zach King, full of laughs, zany action and more than a hint of magic.
Eleven-year-old Zach has magical powers, just like everyone in his family, but he's having trouble harnessing his abilities.
To help his powers manifest, and to help him appreciate his natural gifts, Zach's parents decide that he needs to be around 'real' people more. No more homeschooling - it's time for Zach to enter the scary world of secondary school!
But Zach can't resist a bit of magic... A simple spell ends with him and his best friend stuck in a vending machine. Someone filmed it and by the next day he's gone viral on YouTube, in the process attracting the attention of Rachel, the prettiest girl at school.
With everyone wondering how Zach does his tricks, and with head mean girl Trisha plotting to bring him down, Zach's got his work cut out if he's going to survive year 7 and keep his dreams of becoming a master magician intact.
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