Maddy Lloyd and her ceramic cats are back, this time solving a problem close to home (Shadow Magic, 2011).
Maddy and Rachel are anxious about the ballet tryouts for The Nutcracker. Their favorite ballerina, Snow Bradley, is going to be the Sugarplum Fairy, and all the girls just know that Maddy will be chosen as Clara. Rachel dances too, but she suffers from such stage fright that it’s clear that she is about to give up—which is a shame, because she is quite a dancer when she is alone. Ollie, the third ceramic cat, soon comes to life. Ollie is all vanity, but he has an author’s gift for dramatic tension, even keeping his mission secret until absolutely necessary. Part of a series, the book’s formula is clear: The tiny cat can switch back and forth from ceramic to flesh, understands the problem and can make humans change their behavior. When Rachel ends up summoning her skills and courage, Maddy has to face the fact that her place as the best dancer in the troupe is no longer secure, and her response almost costs the girls their friendship. The British vocabulary and spelling (practise, tetchily, panto and strop, for instance) add a level of challenge to a book for children just transitioning from beginning readers.
The sweet storyline, appealing characters and just the right touch of magic make this an endearing series for new, cat-loving readers who are ready for a little bit of adventure in their vocabulary. (Fantasy. 7-10)