A young, biracial wizard struggles between fighting for her dreams and cheering on her family in this humorous and stirring fantasy.
With a Filipino father and a white (and magic-working) mother, 12-year-old Lennie Mercado has worked all her life to strengthen her magic, while her younger brother, Michael, just likes to goof around. She finally gets a chance at her dream of magic without limitations when her eccentric and impulsive grandfather Poppop steps down as Prime Wizard of the family and hosts a Wizardmatch competition among his grandchildren. Poppop surprises the entire family when he announces that only one sibling from each family can compete. Then Lennie overhears him tell her mother she doesn’t have the Prime Wizard look. Changed by these words, she faces an emotionally difficult journey through favoritism, sibling rivalry, and self-doubt. Magaziner creates an amusing wizard world with wacky settings and characters. She introduces a multiracial female protagonist and culture without overexplaining Filipino words, so there is no interruption to the narrative. She also weaves in themes of gender and racial equality, ultimately affirming the possibility of changing others’ mindsets by speaking up. Overall, it’s a heartwarming, often funny fantasy that balances magic and whimsy with topics all youth can relate to.
A stirring yet comedic look at the importance of family. (Fantasy. 9-12)