In a household where cleanliness and order reign supreme, it is hard to imagine life for young Eric, a boy of eight, and his slightly older sister Val. In Where’s My Wand? these two kids align with their father in an attempt to keep their antiseptic house in some way livable. The kitchen sink, for example, is no place for water to collect. When used, it must be left clean and above all, it must be dried.
Eric is under the illusion that because on a few occasions when he wished for something to happen and it did, he has magical powers. When Dad loses his job, forcing shrew-like mother to support her family, Eric thinks his magic causes his father to eventually find a new job.
In the basement of their home, Eric keeps a large bedspread under which he sings incantations when he hopes to right any situation that has spun out of control, which seems to be the norm for this family. He remembers well the time his father and unreasonable mother had a bitter fight and the only recourse Dad had was to leave. Secretly, under his large incantation blanket, Eric wishes and hopes that his very rational father will return. When he does, Eric becomes convinced of his special powers.
In Where’s My Wand? no one is permitted into the living room with its shag carpet and mismatched pieces of furniture both in color and form. In fact, If one dares enter that room, upon leaving, the intruder must rake the shag so that its furrows all run in the same direction. God forbid that a non-raked footprint be found.
Eric reminded me of Charlie Brown. He seemed destined to find hardship in everything. His teacher tells him during an exam, “Stop rushing through your test that way. You’re not that smart.” Outside of school, Eric runs into his least friend who bullies him more often than not. In spite of his taunts, Eric starts to feel sorry for this boy when he realizes he is partially deaf.
Where’s My Wand? is both wonderfully comical and pathetic. When grandma comes to visit, her cigarette lights the mattress in her room on fire. Bedlam ensues. Firemen are called. Before they ever leave the house, Eric’s mother is scrubbing down the smoke laden walls with detergent and water. She’s given her husband his own bucket and scrub brush even though it’s early A.M. Nothing can stand in the way of a sterile house. She gives Granny her final directive: this is the very last time you’ll visit.
But the lazy hazy days of childhood should eventually give way to ever increasing understanding about the world, sex, self-identity, love, death, and relationships. At twelve, Eric is just beginning his spurt to manhood. Will he find his way or will life forever taunt him? This is the fascinating story behind Where’s My Wand? I would recommend this book to readers who like a very light read, filled with comical text, but at the same time, a read crammed with pathos for a very dysfunctional family. One will come away with the feeling, “How lucky I was!”