Magic - Sarah Brown, Gil McNeil, J.K. Rowling

It is very seldom that I give five stars to an anthology. Usually, they're fairly uneven affairs. Not this time.

"Magic" was written by some of the UK's most talented authors as a benefit for the National Council for One-Parent Families. With an intro by J.K. Rowling to set the scene, the reader is brought into the challenges of single parenting in a whole new way.

Each of the tales has to do with a single parent in an unusual situation. As I said, all of them are very good. However, the standout for me was Meera Syal's "Now You See Her ...," a tale told from the perspective of Seema, a teenaged girl who is also a first-generation Brit. Her mother, Manju, is a middle-aged woman from India, and Seema is constantly embarrassed by her behavior. The moment that takes the cake is when Manju decides to become a magician's assistant -- and really does disappear for quite a while. Over the course of the story, Seema begins to understand her mother in whole new ways.

If you are a fan of short fiction, this would be a good book to find. It's a little older (it turned up on our office lending library shelf, or I would never have known about it), but is as entertaining as can be.