Magic works? Can it save Cal’s family’s farm?
Twelve-year-old Cal and his best friend, Drew, are momentarily distracted from Cal’s family’s problems—caused in no small part by Cal when he accidentally started a fire in the harvester—when they learn that classmate Modesty can practice magic. She’s found a binder of magic spells, but they work only for a minute and only at certain times of the day, and most of the spells are 800-word tongue twisters that can’t be said in under one minute. In puzzling this out, they end up discovering that in a parallel world called Congroo, magic is imperiled because its dragons are dying. With the help of Preface Arrowshot, a young, green-skinned Congruent librarian, the kids discover that the local entrepreneur who’s got his eyes on Cal’s family’s farm may be at the root of the problem. Stopping him could save Congroo and the dragons, and it also might save the farm. Unrelated to the similarly titled What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World (2013), this is a good choice for fans of The Phantom Tollbooth and The Westing Game and Chris Grabenstein’s Mr. Lemoncello books. While there’s plenty of slapstick, the physical comedy is surrounded by wordplay, a good balance of sophisticated and silly. Subtle jabs at climate change deniers and unqualified wannabe world leaders add layers to Clark’s newest. Cal presents white; Drew and Modesty both have brown skin.
A smart kid’s goofball adventure. (Fantasy. 8-14)