Young and young-at-heart moviegoers everywhere are eagerly awaiting the Nov. 16 arrival of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, a major motion picture about a magical toy store starring Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman.
However, for the way-back story on the toy store’s equally magical 243-year-old proprietor, they’ll want to read the prequel, “The Amazing Compendium of Edward Magorium,” the tell-all novel by author and poet Julianna Baggott, an assistant professor in the creative writing program at Florida State University.
Baggott is the bestselling author of four novels, three volumes of poetry, and seven books for young readers, most notably “The Anybodies” trilogy, which is written under her pen name, “N.E. Bode”—as is her film prequel, which arrived in bookstores last month. Scholastic and Walden Media authorized and published “The Amazing Compendium of Edward Magorium” along with five other motion picture-inspired “Magorium” books by different authors.
“I was pitching ideas in L.A. last year and one film executive pitched his idea to me instead,” Baggott said.
“I was asked to tell the story of Edward Magorium, a 243-year-old man, in 150 pages or less and without a real plot,” she said. “Absent a plot, I came up with the idea of ‘The Amazing Compendium of Edward Magorium,’ which is a 160-page chronological index, really, of all the famous people Magorium has influenced in his long life. It’s quite a list, too, with luminaries such as Napoleon, Gandhi, Helen Keller, Churchhill, the Wright Brothers, Darwin, Einstein, authors Beatrix Potter and E.B. White and of course, Elvis.”
The prequel also reveals Magorium’s role in the inventions of Silly Putty®, the Slinky® and other important toys. “It’s turned out to be a compendium that is both magical and odd in all the best ways, I hope, in keeping with the film,” Baggott said.
Baggott’s work has appeared in distinguished literary journals and popular publications such as Poetry, The Southern Review, Ms. Magazine, Glamour, TriQuarterly, and Best American Poetry 2000, in addition to her 14 books. She has read excerpts on National Public Radio’s “Here and Now” and “Talk of the Nation,” and now broadcasts monthly hourlong specials in the voice of her pen name, N.E. Bode, on XMRadio’s XMKids.
In addition to Baggott’s “Magorium” prequel, her new book for young readers, “The Slippery Map” will be published this fall—followed by “The Prince of Fenway Park” next spring (“during spring training,” she said).
For more info on the prolific FSU author, creative writing teacher and mother of four young children, visit Baggott’s Web site at www.juliannabaggott.com. To learn more about FSU’s top 10-ranked Creative Writing Program, visit the English department’s Web site at www.english.fsu.edu.