Books > The Magic Gown

Yes, Dorothy’s really not in Kansas anymore…she’s now eleven-year-old Lilly Segovia in the “Land of Ten Kings and Roses,” and not since The Wizard of Oz have young readers of all ages enjoyed such a lush tale of colorful characters and thrilling adventures, all to the accompaniment of enchanting, full-color illustrations. Lilly’s move to a new home sets in motion the story of a gift (the Magic Gown) that is to be given to our world from another realm, a place both bizarrely terrifying and beautiful beyond imagination…a place in which the indomitable spirit of this emerging young woman, now aided by her newfound friend Tom, is challenged over and over as she discovers her true identity in fulfillment of a charmed destiny.


Chapter 1 A New Home

One early summer morning, along the shoreline of a golden-lit beach, a white seagull flew in the direction of a girl pulling her green-painted kayak in the sand. As a sudden breeze blew her long, brown, sunbleached hair away from her tanned face, she looked up and noticed the bird. It circled once over her head, dropping something from its beak.

The girl quickly put out her left hand and caught the small object falling from the sky. It was a shell. She examined it. On the outer side it was bumpy, shimmering gold and pearled white with purple-colored markings on the top end. The inside was smooth and creamy white, with light and dark purple. Squinting her large, sea-green eyes, she looked up to see the bird heading east out over the glistening water.

“Lilly, come on! I want to make the early ferry,” she heard her father call from the driveway. Lilly put the shell into the pocket of her faded, peach-colored summer dress and dragged the kayak through two grassy sand dunes toward the house. When she got to the car, the engine was already running and her father was waiting, smiling.

“You ready to go, Lil?” he asked. “No! I don’t want to move. I like it here. I don’t see why we have to go,” she said, as her father lifted the kayak on to the top of the car and tightened the rope around it. “We’ve already been over this. I have a new job. We’ve been on this island for six years.”

“That’s not long.”

“You’re eleven now.”
“It will be good for you, honey.”
“No, it won’t!”
“You can go to school and have friends.”
“I have J,” she insisted.
“Is that it?” her mother called to them, coming out of the front door with the last of the boxes. “Andrew, Lilly, is there anything else you need from the house before I lock it up?”
“That’s it for me, how about you, Lil?”
Lilly looked through the car window to see the cardboard box resting on the seat. Without answering, she got into the backseat and slammed the door closed.
“Okay, then let’s go,” her father called.
The weathered station wagon pulled away. Her small face watched the beach house through the rear window for as long as she could see it. Once it had disappeared, Lilly turned and put her arm around the cardboard box as the car headed down the road to the ferry that goes to the North Carolina mainland. There they would get on the ocean highway north and drive up the coastline to a small town in New Jersey.

It was well after dark when they arrived a couple of nights later. Lilly stood in the stone driveway outside the old yellow cottage surrounded by the towering silhouettes of locust trees, cedar and white pines, and looked up at the star-filled sky and the crescent moon. The scent of dried pine needles perfumed the warm night air. She heard a great horned owl hoo-hooing from the thick woods nearby and what sounded like the chirping of thousands of crickets and locust bugs. From the tidal creek beyond the old ivy covered stonewall, water splashed. In the dark, Lilly could not see that it was the resident muskrat taking her summer midnight swim. She dashed back to the car. “J! You okay? I heard something out there! What do ya think it is? I don’t like it here!” she whispered, kneeling next to the cardboard box and opening the top. The blue jay squawked, looking up from the box at her. She had found him on the island a year ago, when he was just a baby, and fed him things like chopped-up worms, bugs and nuts. Now, although he lived outside, he was tame and would fly to her.

“Tomorrow morning you’ll see this place, and if you don’t like it either, we can leave!” The bird fluttered around the box. “Okay. You’re so brave, J; you’re not afraid of the dark like me, are ya?” She carried
the bird in the box to the garage, kissed her finger and touched the bird’s head, then shut the top. Spooked again by the dark and the new and different sounds, she quickly flipped the light switch off, closed the garage door and ran for the house.

It was a clear, blue-sky morning when Lilly awoke. Out her window she could look down at Clay Pit Creek or directly out at a tall, straight, blue spruce tree. It was like having a perfect Christmas tree outside the
window all year round. Holly trees filled with red berries lined the creek edge. Pairs of red cardinals hopped from branch to branch, making little chipping sounds. On the far side of the creek, acres of cattails waved bright green against the early morning light. Flocks of red-winged black birds perched on the tops of the cattails, swaying back and forth. Farther out, the creek led into the river and from there to the ocean. Lilly went to the garage, brought the box outside and opened the top. The blue jay hopped out fluttering his wings, flew to a nearby holly tree and then off to find something to eat. Lilly thought she’d do the same thing. She made two soft-boiled eggs and toast with cinnamon and honey.

Lilly spent the first half of the day fixing up her bedroom. Around lunchtime, her mother came into her room carrying a package and said it was addressed to her. She had found it on the front porch, she explained. It was a plain, brown, cardboard box with no return address.

Lilly opened the package and took out something hard and rectangular, about the size of a small shoebox. It was wrapped in blue paper. Unwrapping the paper carefully, she uncovered a red wooden box carved with hummingbirds and flowering vines. Lilly ran her fingers over the carvings and then opened the box. Inside, wrapped in yellow paper, were tiny black seeds. A neat, white, note card fluttered to the floor. Lilly picked it up and read it. In simple black writing, Lilly read, “Welcome to your new home.” “Who’s it from?” she asked her mother, placing the box on the dresser in front of the mirror. Her mother stood studying the note card.

“I don’t know.”



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The Magic Gown Award



“What an adventure…. The colorful illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.” —TCM Reviews

“…positive messages about relationships, friendship, respect, manners, and doing the right thing.” —Dallas Book Diva

“Dragons, dreams, and destiny abound in this enchanting adventure….” —The Midwest Book Review

“…a magical adventure of transformation and hope….” — Angeles Arrien

“…impressionistic watercolors recall Manet and Van Gogh….” —ForeWord Magazine

“…Kimmel wants us to believe that there is a more hopeful future for all of humanity….” —Second Saturday Magazine

“A not-to-be-missed book!” —Sister Laura Algiere, DW

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