Maggie and the Abacaba Genies, abridged version

This is the story of an ordinary girl who makes an extraordinary discovery, but Dear Reader, before you go on you need to understand that while "Abacaba" is a magic word, it is not the same as "Abracadabra."  Look closely.  They are different.  

You should practice, right now, saying "Aba-Caba."  The two parts rhyme.  Say it a couple of times.

When you've got the hang of it, add the next part, "Daba-caba." It rhymes with "Abacaba," and when you say them together you get Abacaba-Dabacaba.  Fun, huh?  It gets even longer.  Much much much MUCH longer.  Okay, let's start the story.

Maggie and the Abacaba Genies

by Michael Naylor

 Maggie saw it near the waterline, green glass on wet sand, and right away she knew it was special.  It was a bottle – a beautiful curvy   bottle – and it looked to be very old.  She picked it up from amongst the broken seashells.  It had a very unusual neck that twisted around and formed a kind of handle.  She carefully turned it over, and there on the other side, carved into the glass in gold letters, was a word.

A magic word.

Knowing a magic word when she sees one, Maggie reads it aloud and sure enough, a genie appears!  

“My name is Abacaba-Dabacaba," she says with a voice like the ocean breeze. "I am the genie of the bottle, master of the fourth dimension, guardian of the Depths.”

As this is the shortened version of the story, we won't go into the details of their conversation.  Suffice to say, that when Maggie asks her about wishes, the genie tells her she cannot grant wishes, but perhaps the next genie can.  "His name," she explains, "begins and ends with mine, but there is a letter ‘E’ in the middle.”

Taking a deep breath, Maggie says the very long name: 

E-ABACABADABACABA - and another genie appears!

“My name is Abacabadabacaba-E-abacabadabacaba," he announces, his voice deep and cavernous.  "I am master of the fifth dimension, guardian of Earth.  How may I help you?”

Again she asks wishes but he tells her she has to ask the next genie, whose name is twice as long again, plus the letter F.  

Taking a deep breath Maggie says the improbably long name, and a third genie appears!
“Hello,” she whispers warmly, “My name is

        master of the sixth dimension, guardian of Fire.”

And alas, once again Maggie does not get wishes, but the genie does promise that the next genie knows the secret.

    (His name is

in case you were wondering.)

Calling out this incredibly long name, Maggie is rewarded with the appearance of yet another genie!

“I am the one they call ‘The Genie who Lives at the letter G,’" his voice echoes like the open sky. "I am master of the seventh dimension, guardian of Gusts and Gales.  Few mortals ever speak my name.  I am honored to meet one so clever as you."

Maggie and genie discuss the nature of the genies and their ever-lengthening names.

“How many genies are there altogether?” Maggie asks.

The genie smiles, leans forward and whispers,

                “We go all the way to Z!”

"The name of the last genie is the longest name in the whole universe,” he tells her. “If you call her by name, she will appear and grant you not one, not three, but twenty-six wishes!”

    And so it happens that day on the beach –
        Maggie discovers the secret of the genies
    and comes to know the most powerful magic word in all the universe.

    She takes a deep breath.

        It is just one word . . .
        Just one very long word . . .
        Just one very long word that might be
            thousands or even millions of letters long.

            All of her wishes could come true.
                All she has to do was say the word.
                    All the way to Z.

And she did.

The above was the shortened, condensed version of the book, Maggie and the Abacaba Genies.  The book contains rich thematic language and imagery, is filled with hidden mathematical structures related to abacaba patterns, and has 8 pages of activities, which you may also download here if you'd like to try them out.

Download the activity pages (8 page pdf file)
Download teacher activities (23 page pdf file)
Download a preview for the book Maggie and the Abacaba Genies (2 page pdf file)

Get a copy of Maggie and the Abacaba Genies (36 pages, softcover or hardcover) and other Abacaba books, including the 4-volume set that contains the entire name of the Genie who lives at the letter Z (63 million+ letters long!)