The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen (W.W. Norton & Co., 2012, 224pp.)
Minou, a little girl, lives on a tiny, nameless island. The only other inhabitants of the island are her philosopher father (who claims to descend from Descartes), their friend Boxman (who makes sawing-people-in-half boxes for magicians on the mainland), and Priest, the island’s pretzel-baking spiritual leader who leads their congregation of three. Well, technically, there’s a fourth member, if you think to count No-Name, the resident dog. And there is a fifth presence, too: Minou’s mother, who went for a walk on the beach several months ago and hasn’t been seen since. Only Minou believes her mother is still alive—whisked away, perhaps, by magic! But when a boy’s dead body is found tumbling in the surf, the reality of life and death forces Minou into a pensive state, and causes her to reflect on past events leading up to her mother’s disappearance. Short but sweet, The Vanishing Act is a charming, poetic tale of parable-like simplicity.
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