My family read The Vanishing Coin and its sequel, The Incredible Twisting Arm, in quick succession. The main character is a fourth-grade boy who has trouble concentrating and following up on his school work, and who generally seems to always be putting the wrong foot forward. Besides failing to live up to his parents' and teachers' expectations, he's got a class bully to deal with and a new neighbor, Nora, who is embarrassingly smart, that he spends after-school hours with.
In The Vanishing Coin, when Mike discovers The White Rabbit, a shop downtown that he's never seen before, he enters into a world of new possibilities. Here, he is welcomed and accepted, but can he and Nora pass the test set for them to truly be welcomed and learn magician's secrets? Finally, Mike succeeds at something Nora can't and finds himself enthralled with the infinite possibilities The White Rabbit seems to offer.
In the second story, Mike is still stumbling through school and dealing with his class bully. He and Nora are good friends and magic partners. Mike finds himself struggling with Nora's other friendships, and again with his parents' expectations. A chance for extra-credit science work at school provides him an opportunity to show his parents that he isn't completely irresponsible and to maybe earn a new privilege (riding his bike to The White Rabbit on his own).
Included in each book are about 5-6 instructions for the magic tricks Mike learns through the story. We found that we didn't need to buy anything to try these tricks out at home, either! The books also feature fun illustrations, which help break up the story. The illustrations, magic tricks, larger print, and uncomplicated plots make these great for younger readers.