The Spilled Potion

In this lighthearted kids’ fantasy from debut author Syed, a young witch gets herself into a lot of trouble as the result of trying to get back at her younger sister for her bad behavior.
Thirteen-year-old Zara “Zoey” Williams, who comes from a family of wizards and witches, is tired of her little sister, Allie, causing trouble with magic. She gets particularly annoyed after Allie makes a mess in her room while trying to turn her pet frog, Lilly, into a puppy. In retaliation, Zoey decides to turn Allie into a bunny, which backfires when Zoey accidentally spills the potion needed to restore Allie to her original form; unfortunately, she has no idea how to fix the problem. This sets off a series of misadventures. Zoey gets help from the eccentric head of witchy society, who claims to be Cleopatra—according to her, she wasn’t killed by an asp; she merely time traveled. Eventually, Zoey travels to the future in order to get some needed though currently unavailable ingredients for reversing spells. There, she’s assisted by a girl named Jenny and her mom. This extremely imaginative book stars a clever, young first-person narrator who will greatly appeal to middle school readers. With remarkably strong prose, the author, an 11-year-old, manages to conjure up not only exactly the sort of magical adventure that would appeal to her age group, but also a protagonist to whom they can truly relate. While an older reader might have some trouble embracing the novel due to a few plot holes, such as how Zoey is able to keep her sister’s disappearance a secret from her parents for such a long time, and some far-fetched conceits—if Zoey has to go to the future (a presumably complex spell) to reverse a seemingly simple spell after spilling one potion, what do other magic-users do in even worse situations?—such concerns won’t likely bother the target age group, who will be delighted by the novel’s magic, humor and heart.

A warmhearted, fun children’s story that young fantasy fans will enjoy.

Pub Date: May 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494276966

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2014

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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