Cover image for 27 magic words / Sharelle Byars Moranville.
27 magic words / Sharelle Byars Moranville.
Title Variants:
Twenty-seven magic words
Publication Information:
New York : Holiday House, 2018.

Physical Description:
199 pages ; 22 cm
Although Kobi's parents sailed into a storm five years ago, she believes they are alive, and when she is sent from her grandmother's luxurious Paris apartment to live with an uncle in Iowa, Kobi tells lies that soon catch up with her.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
MOR Paperback Junior Paperback Fiction

On Order



An irrepressible ten-year-old must reconcile her fantasies with reality in this beautifully written novel about facing the future.

Although eleven-year-old Kobi's parents sailed into a storm at sea five years ago, she knows they are alive. If she says "Avanti!" she can see them. Now that her wealthy Parisian Grandmama is sending Kobi and her sister away to live with Uncle Wim in Iowa, she will need the magic words her mother left her more than ever. To fit in at her new American school , Kobi tells lies that soon catch up with her, and leans heavily on her magic. In a heart-wrenching climax, she must confront not only the untruths she has told others but the stories she has made herself believe. Only then will she be able to grieve for her parents and move on with her life.

Author Notes

SHARELLE BYARS MORANVILLE is also the author of the middle-grade novel Over the River , which Booklist called "beautifully written" in a "STARRED!" review. She lives in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Reviews 1

Horn Book Review

Before Kobi's mother and father disappeared during a sailing trip, Kobi's mother had given her twenty-seven Post-it notes bearing magic words. After five years of living with Grandmamma in Paris, Kobi's mind is still wrapped up in discovering and using the words' very specific effects: mayfly stops rain; buoy "makes people understand you really are sorry." Most importantly, Avanti! lets her see her parents living on an island. The words stay with her through a new set of changes, starting with an ostensibly temporary transatlantic move, but cracks begin to appear in Kobi's comprehension of her world, and a big revelation shifts the story from fanciful to realistic. Many readers may guess before it's made fully clear that this is a study in how people deal with grief--others in Kobi's family have their own varied responses (such as the way her sister Brook's apparent obsessive-compulsive disorder manifests itself). The characters are gentle with one another, and, consequently, this quiet novel about a painful situation is gentle with readers. shoshana flax (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.