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Escape to Witch Mountain

Escape to Witch Mountain - Alexander Key I grew up with this book and have loved it all my life, so it’s hard for me to tell how well it’s aged. I can say that it was a lot of fun to reread in the Harry Potter era. A few pages in, I started checking “hero” characteristics off in my mind.

Here. Take this handy quiz – maybe you have what it takes to be a hero!

Are you an orphan? (At the beginning of Escape, Tony and his sister Tia have just suffered the loss of the grandmotherly woman who’s cared for them as long as they can remember. She wasn’t really a relative, but she was nice to them. But now she’s dead. And so far as they know, they have no blood ties.)

Are you a good kid who’s surrounded by people who misunderstand and are inclined to assume the worst about you? (Tony “has a bad reputation for fighting,” though all he ever does is fend off bullies. Tia is accused of theft when really she only broke into a building in order to rescue a trapped kitten.)

Do you have any unusual physical characteristics? (No lightning bolts here, but Tony and Tia’s “pale hair” contrasts sharply with their “olive skins” and “dark-blue eyes that were almost black.” Also, Tia is mute, although she can “talk” to her brother – see below.)

Any magical powers to report? (Heck, yeah. Telekinesis, telepathy – you know, the usual. Okay, and some unusual: Tony can get an accurate picture in his head of any place he hears about, even if he’s never been there in his life; Tia has total recall, going all the way back to her toddler years.)

If “yes” to the above, do your magical powers manifest in morally upstanding ways? (Tia can effortlessly open any lock, but only if it’s “right” for her to do so. She could never open a locked door if she was trying to steal money, for instance, but she can get through one in order to save trapped kittens no one else can hear. Tony can play his harmonica so beautifully, even wild animals are charmed. And this music amps his telekinetic abilities.)

Not to get too personal, but can you quite literally speak another species’ language? (See above re Tia and kittehs. Also bears. Pretty much any animal, in fact.)

Have you always felt, well, kind of different from the people around you? (Tony and Tia have sensed all their lives that this world isn’t truly their own. Boy howdy, are they right.)

Might there be a community of people just like you out there somewhere, and are you trying to find them so you can live your life without feeling like such a weirdo all the time? (Yes and yes.)

Got a nemesis? (Big time. The scariest thing about Lucas Deranian is that he doesn’t want to kill Tony and Tia. He wants to own them.)

Okay, pencils down, please. The quiz is over. If you enjoyed it, I recommend this story as a good old-fashioned adventure. (And if you’re old enough to remember the movie – the book is nothing like it. It’s much more serious and intense.)