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.