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Be the Dragon: 9 Keys to Unlocking Your Inner Magic
Author: Catherine J. Manning
Illustrator: Melanie Demmer
Published: September 14, 2021 by Workman

Summary: There is magic inside you if you only dare to look.

Dragons are the heroes we need.
They have fires in their bellies, wisdom in their eyes, and hearts big enough to welcome one and all. And now you can be one, too!
In this ingenious book filled with hands-on activities, quests and quizzes, exciting stories, and charming illustrations every young reader will discover firsthand how to slay their fears and find their inner power.
How, in other words, to Be the Dragon, filled with courage, kindness, insight, compassion, positivity, and so much more.
And that is something to roar about!

ReviewRemember how you used to fill out endless surveys as a kid to test out who you were as a person? Mostly As? You are a hero. Mostly Bs? You are a warrior. Mostly Cs? You are a princess Mostly Ds? You are a knight. Now, imagine you had one of these books sooner. Be the Dragon: 9 Keys to Unlocking Your Inner Magic is an incredibly clever book that guides kids through quizzes to get to know themselves, crafts and projects to explore their inner magic, and lots of great stories to engage them along the way. Both my 7-year-old and 4-year-old sons were hooked. I caught one of them reading the book in the corner and doing the quizzes on his own because he couldn’t wait until we read it again. This book is very well done and will bring such joy to so many kids.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is easily integrated into classrooms. The quizzes and projects make it a no-brainer as a classroom text.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Which quiz was your favorite?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • Which of the nine keys taught you the most?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Love: Quizzes/Surveys; Dragons; Interactive Books

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**Thank you to Ilana at Workman for providing a copy for review**

 
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It Fell From the Sky
By the Fan Brothers
Published: September 28, 2021 by Simon & Schuster

Summary: From the creators of the critically acclaimed The Night Gardener and Ocean Meets Sky comes a whimsical and elegantly illustrated picture book about community, art, the importance of giving back—and the wonder that fell from the sky.

It fell from the sky on a Thursday.

None of the insects know where it came from, or what it is. Some say it’s an egg. Others, a gumdrop. But whatever it is, it fell near Spider’s house, so he’s convinced it belongs to him.

Spider builds a wonderous display so that insects from far and wide can come look at the marvel. Spider has their best interests at heart. So what if he has to charge a small fee? So what if the lines are long? So what if no one can even see the wonder anymore?

But what will Spider do after everyone stops showing up?

Review: I cannot get enough of this book. I just want to hug it every time I see it. The story and illustrations work in a way that is simply magical. Their talent is simply remarkable. When an object falls from the sky (“A marble!” -My 7-year-old), the insects are convinced it must be from another world. Spider decides to develop a display and invites the insects far and wide. They merely need to pay a leaf to see the object. But spider learns an important lesson—one that serves as a good reminder to all of us. I loved this book and expect it to see some awards. It dazzled me.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might to ask students to choose an object to examine from a different perspective than their own. They could write their own picture books.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the creators of the book use color to enhance their story?
  • How do the creators of the story use personification to teach a lesson?
  • What do we learn from this story? What does the spider teach us?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers; What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada; What Do You Do With a Chance? by Kobi Yamada; What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada; Magic Candies by Heena Baek; The Caiman by María Eugenia Manrique; Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett; Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

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**Thank you to Beth from Simon & Schuster for Providing a Copy for Review!**

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Magic Candies
Author: Heena Baek
Translator: Sophie Bowman
Published: September 1, 2021 by Amazon Crossing Kids

Summary: A quirky story about finding your voice, from internationally acclaimed author Heena Baek.

Tong Tong could never have imagined what everyone around him was thinking. But when he gets hold of some magic candies, suddenly there are voices everywhere. He can hear how his couch feels, what upsets his dog, that his demanding dad loves him. He even gets to catch up with his dead grandmother. It turns out, these voices in Tong Tong’s life have A LOT to say! Is Tong Tong ready to hear it?

At turns funny, weird, and heartfelt, this imaginative picture book from award-winning Korean author Heena Baek will take readers along on Tong Tong’s journey as he goes from lonely to brave.

★“Show-stopping spreads by Baek, similar to art by Red Nose Studio, feature molded, emotive figures in meticulously constructed scenery with miniature furniture, photographed under dramatic lighting—an effect startlingly close to animation. It’s a fully realized world that considers discerning meaning and making friends, while offering artwork that lingers in the memory.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“The enhanced artwork establishes depth and perspective…depictions of facial expressions are skillful and endearing, and the interplay between text and illustrations will cause readers to linger and ponder. An enigmatic, quirky representation of an active imagination in search of understanding and companionship.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Deeply touching, funny, and incredibly odd, this is the kind of picture book that gets you excited about picture books all over again…Magic Candies is so remarkable…a book that is both about giving voice to the voiceless and finding your own.” —Betsy Bird, School Library Journal

Heena Baek is an acclaimed picture book author and illustrator from South Korea. She won the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, a huge international award honoring the body of work of children’s book creators. She studied educational technology at Ewha Womans University and animation at the California Institute of the Arts. Utilizing her diverse animation production experience, Heena creates powerful and interesting picture books, often sculpting characters and building sets. She is the author and illustrator of a number of picture books, many of which have been translated and have received awards from South Korea and internationally. Follow her on Twitter @heenastory. On Instagram: @baekheena

Sophie Bowman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, studying Korean literature. She was awarded the ICF Literature Translation Fellowship at Ewha Womans University. In 2015, she won the Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Award grand prize for poetry with her translations of Jin Eun-young and co-translated Kim Bo-Young’s I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories. Follow her on Twitter @SophieOrbital.

Review: I was fortunate to receive this book about a month ago, and I have read it at least one hundred times to my children. They just can’t get enough of the quirkiness, and neither can I. After my very first reading, I immediately flipped to the first page to read it again. It’s a really neat book that sparks readers’ imaginations. The kids and I love to debate about which sculpture/illustration is our favorite. This book reminds me why I love picture books so much. It’s difficult to describe, but it offers a sense of magic for me. The main character’s words and actions bring out so many emotions for me. I felt simultaneous humor and sadness when he speaks to his grandmother through bubble gum under the table, for instance. The book is such a fascinating concept, and the author/illustrator is incredibly talented.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might to ask students to use clay to sculpt and write a missing spread with a different colored candy in the book.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does the author make the narrator come alive?
  • How does the candies differ? Evolve?
  • What is the dog’s name? Why is this interesting?
  • What does this book teach you about being human?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: The Caiman by María Eugenia Manrique; Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett; Hug Machine by Scott Campbell; Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for Providing a Copy for Review!**

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Kingdom of Secrets
Author: Christyne Morrell
Expected Publication August 3rd, 2021 by Delacorte Press

Summary: Prismena’s father is the hot air balloonist in the peaceful kingdom of Oren. She assists him by mending torn balloons, but she yearns to build and fly the complicated machines herself. One day, a waif named Abi steals Prissy’s only remaining memento of her deceased mother – a silk scarf – and promises to return it only if Prissy smuggles a mysterious box onto one of her father’s flights. Since balloon travel is strictly regulated in Oren, that single act of rebellion results in her father’s arrest and kicks off a spiraling series of events that will yank Prissy out of her predictable life.

Along the way to free her father from jail, she’ll get caught up in a bar fight, nabbed by a sadistic schoolmistress, tossed into a home for unwanted children, schooled in the art of stealing, and thrust into the center of a brewing rebellion. On her journey through Oren – with its glitzy neighborhoods and its seedy underbelly – Prismena will uncover secrets that change the way she views her family, her kingdom, herself, and even her beloved hot air balloons. She’ll have to break a few rules – and even forge metal – to save the people she loves, but she may also get a chance to soar.

About the Author: Christyne Morrell is a children’s book author and attorney. She lives in Decatur, Georgia with her husband, daughter, and hyperactive beagle. Christyne has been writing poems and stories since she could hold a pencil, but KINGDOM OF SECRETS (Delacorte 2021) is her debut middle-grade novel. 

Christyne is also the author of the picture book Abra, Cadabra & Bob (Clear Fork Publishing 2019), and her work has appeared in Highlights, Spider, and The School Magazine. She can be found online at christynewrites.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @ChristyneWrites. Christyne is represented by Danielle Chiotti at Upstart Crow Literary.

Review: When I started reading this book, it caught me right away because Abi comes out of nowhere, blackmails Prissy, then her dad gets arrested, and really I truly had no idea what was going on! Since the book is in Prissy’s point of view it gives the reader the suspense and disbelief that Prismena has as the story begins. This makes you want to just keep reading to figure everything out.

Then, add in a second story about a mysterious young lady named Wren from the past that will crash land into the main story in a very unexpected way–it just sucks the reader in more!

In addition to the plot, I found the characters intriguing and very well crafted. The development of Prismena is definitely the highlight as she learns how to be on her own and have her own thoughts, but even the secondary characters had stories that Morrell found time to tell in the book. I do wish I knew more about Abi’s life, but maybe that will come in another book!

I also think the book is timely as it looks at government corruption and propaganda based in fear of others and loss of power. Because of Prismena’s ignorance, we get to experience the realizations as she does, so this allows for good discussions about these topics without bringing up current events.

I am pretty picky about high fantasy, but this one is one of my recent favorites, and I cannot wait to share it with my students!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The author’s website has a plethora of extra information to bring great discussions about this book to your classroom or book club!

First, there is an interview with balloonists which goes more into the science of the balloons, how Prissy’s valves would work, and other fun balloon anecdotes.

Second, she has Kingdom of Secret themed activities that are engineering, robotics, and science focused! These include making their own Dress Fit for a Queen, Rubber Band Flying Machine, Hot Air Balloon, and Mini-Catapult.

Finally, she has a section on “Fun Facts and Further Research” that looks at balloon history and fashion.

(And side note: I love a good map of a high fantasy setting, and the author gives us a very detailed and beautiful map of Oren.)

Discussion Questions: The Kingdom of Secrets Book Club Discussion Guide is available now and includes discussion questions such as:

  • At the beginning of A Blood Red Smile, a little girl treats Prissy like a celebrity because she’s the “balloonist’s daughter.” Later, Marybeth does the same. Why do you think that is?
  • Mr. Dudley is arrested for having “contraband,” including rubber. It may seem silly to you that something as common as rubber would be considered dangerous. Why do you think King Michael feels that rubber and other simple inventions are threatening?
  • When they first meet, Prissy and Abi don’t get along. Why not? What are some of their differences? What do they have in common? What changes over the course of the book that leads to them becoming friends?

Note: Some of the discussion questions in the complete guide are spoilers!!

Book Trailer:

Flagged Passages: Chapter 1. The Stranger and the Scarf

Abigail Smeade arrived like a black eye: sudden, fierce, and blossoming under my skin. When I met her, I was sitting in the shade of an old oak tree, minding my own business. I’d just removed a burlap sack from a hollow in the tree’s trunk and poured its contents out in the grass–scraps of metal, twisted brackets, and a few strips of a stretchy material called rubber. Most people would’ve described those things as junk fit for the bin, but I knew better. Pieced together just right, that “junk” would become more than the sum of its parts. And figuring out which way was just right happened to be one of my favorite pastimes.

But Father didn’t like me tinkering with the odds and ends I gathered (and sometimes even pinched from his workshop). It wasn’t proper, he said, and making something nobody had ever seen before might get a person looked at twice, which was the last thing we wanted. That’s why I kept my collection stashed inside an oak tree in the middle of Fletcher’s field. Nobody but Mr. Fletcher and me ever wandered into that field anymore, if you didn’t count the sheep.

At the bottom of the bundle, rolled up tight, was a scarf, a single piece of fabric more precious than all the rest of it put together. I unfurled it across my knees, and the silk shone and rippled like running water. It was cool to the touch, but the pattern–in shades of blue and yellow and purple–made me think of places drenched in sun. The kind of faraway places Mother liked to visit when she was flying hot-air balloons. In fact, the scarf had been a souvenir from one of her trips. She’d had a weakness for beautiful, unnecessary things. She’d filled the house with them once.

“Peanut brittle?”

Startled, I crumpled the scarf and crammed it back into the sack. Then I whipped my head left and right, hunting for the owner of that voice. It wasn’t until I looked up that I spotted her, sitting on a branch of the tree and kicking her legs like she was lounging on a swing. She peered down at me with shrewd, glittering brown eyes. Without prompting, she extended a half-eaten shard of candy through the leaves. It glistened with a semicircle of saliva where she’d taken the last bite.

“No, thanks,” I said.

“Your loss.” She wedged the peanut brittle into the far reaches of her mouth and cracked off a piece. It rattled against her teeth as she spoke. “What’s that?” She pointed down at one of my projects, something I was still trying to get just right. A small flying machine I’d made using those strips of rubber Mr. Dudley had given me.

“Excuse me . . . who are you?” I asked. She looked about my age–long-limbed and gangly, with light brown skin. Her hair had been pulled into a ponytail that erupted at the back of her head in a burst of copper corkscrews. She wore several layers of clothes–an apple-green vest, a striped jacket two sizes too small, and two gauzy skirts that looked like petticoats that had been dyed pink and cut short. Her scuffed boots kicked at the air over my head.

“Abigail Smeade, at your service,” she said. “You can call me Abi.” She smiled with a mouth full of crowded, crooked teeth, each one shoving its way to the front. She stretched her arm down to me again, this time offering her long, tapered fingers for a handshake. As though it were completely normal to meet someone while perched in a tree. I unpretzeled my legs and stood on tiptoes to give her hand a single uninspired shake.

“I’m Prismena,” I said. “What are you doing here?”

“Same as you,” she said. “Trespassing.”

(Read more of this excerpt at https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/652736/kingdom-of-secrets-by-christyne-morrell/)

Read This If You Love: The Land of Stories books by Chris Colfer, The Trouble with Shooting Stars by Meg Cannistra, A Tear in the Ocean by H.M. Bouwman, and other middle grade fantasy books

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**Thank you to the author and publisher for providing a copy for review!**

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Secondhand Dogs
Author: Carolyn Crimi
Illustrator: Melissa Manwill
Published July 6th, 2021 by Balzer + Bray

Summary: Miss Lottie’s home was for second chances.

When she adopted Gus, Roo, Tank, and Moon Pie, Miss Lottie rescued each member of the pack—including herself, her helper, Quinn, and her reclusive cat, Ghost—and turned them into a family. But when a new dog, Decker, arrives and tries to hoard Miss Lottie’s heart and home for himself, the pack’s future is threatened.

At first, Gus, the insecure pack leader, only notices little things, like tiny Moon Pie being kicked out of the bed and Ghost acting spooked (then again…Ghost is a cat). But things soon go from bad to worse as Decker’s presence causes disharmony in the group.

When Decker convinces Moon Pie to embark on an impossible journey, it’s up to Gus to gather his courage, rally his splintered pack, and bring Moon Pie home. And with coyotes and cars on the loose, the pack must push through obstacles and dangers to reunite with Moon Pie before he can get hurt—or nearly as bad, get his heart broken.

A heartwarming—and heart-tugging—middle grade novel about love, loyalty, and what to means to be part of a family, featuring a motley pack of rescue dogs—from author Carolyn Crimi, with adorable illustrations by Melissa Manwill. Perfect for fans of A Dog’s Life and Because of Winn-Dixie.

Praise: “Pervading themes of bullying, leadership, loyalty, and family—among humans and canines alike—raise important issues while the comic-style illustrations feature character cameos and highlight key scenes. A sensitive, satisfying, and intriguing canine tale” –Kirkus Reviews

About the Author: Carolyn Crimi received her MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College in 2000. She has published over 15 books, including Dear Tabby, Don’t Need Friends, Boris and Bella, Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, Where’s My Mummy?, and I Am the Boss of this Chair. Her book, There Might Be Lobsters, won The Golden Kite Award in 2018 for Best Picture Book Text, and her middle grade debut, Weird Little Robots, was named a BEA Book Buzz pick. Carolyn has received over thirty state awards and award nominations and was given The Prairie State Award in 2012 for her body of work. You can visit Carolyn at carolyncrimi.com.

Facebook: Carolyn Crimi
Twitter: @crims10

Review: First, I must say: kids are going to love this book. Seriously. Go pick it up for the kid(s) in your life.

I always go hesitantly into dog books because, as I am sure it is with all of you, the emotions when it comes to animal books are on high alert! And please know that your emotions are going to be going on a roller coaster of emotions in this one! 

The first emotion you are going to feel is love. As soon as you hear Gus’s voice, you know that he is a dog you can trust. Then as you meet each of the pack, they automatically go into your heart. Crimi does an amazing job telling the current narrative while also flashing back to show the dogs’ (and Miss Lottie’s, Quinn’s, and Ghost the cat’s) past. This allows you to jump into the story while also learning about how the pack gets together.

The next emotion you are going to feel is anger. Decker is a challenger to the pack. The way he manipulates and bullies, specifically Moon Pie, is devastating. It is true manipulation. You will definitely feel anger. Also, you learn more about Quinn’s life which will definitely make you feel angry.

Then comes the feelings of suspense, sadness, happiness, pride, and more! I can’t get more into the story because I don’t want to spoil! It is a good ride, I promise!

Teachers’ Tools for Instruction: First, this book is going to make an awesome read aloud!! Great topics and themes will lead to wonderful conversations.

But I think a huge asset for this book in the classroom is the different point of views that the author tackles. It is a wonderful mentor text for looking at voice. Each dog, cat, and person, although in 3rd person, had a different distinct tone and voice. It would be a great activity to have your students write a story from a certain POV then rewrite it from a different. Then they can even change 1st person to 3rd or vice versa. 

There is also a publisher-provided curriculum guide that is an awesome resource:

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why did the pack lie to Moon Pie and was it okay?
  • Why was Dexter the way he was?
  • Why did Roo originally side with Dexter?
  • Each of the dogs had a special skill: What would your special skill be?
  • What are some times during the book that shows you Quinn is special?
  • How does Quinn finally stand up to his brother?
  • What does Gus’s choice about what he did with the coyote tell you about him?
  • Why is the book titled Secondhand Dogs?
  • What is the differences between Dexter and Gus as the pack leader?
  • What does Miss Lottie’s choice about what she did with Dexter tell you about her?
  • How did the ending make you rethink Dexter’s character?
  • Who do you think was the hero of the book?

Flagged Passages: Gus: The new dog walked calmly next to Miss Lottie. His ears and his tail were both up. Alert, but not alarmed.

He wasn’t nervous. Not like the other dogs had been when they first approached the pack.

He was sizing them up, Gus decided. Gus didn’t know what to think about that. Usually new dogs pulled back a bit, or wiggled a little too much, or stood their ground and barked.

Not this dog.

Gus sniffed the air again. The scent that wafted off the new dog was bright and cold, like the metal water bowl in Miss Lottie’s kitchen.

Gus had always hated that bowl.” (Chapter 2)

Read a sample: https://preview.aer.io/Secondhand_Dogs-Mzk3MzU1?social=0&retail=0&emailcap=0

Read This If You Love: The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate, Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart, Granted by John David Anderson

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**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!!**

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Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides
Author: Anna Kang; Illustrator: Christopher Weyant
Published: May 1, 2021 by Two Lions

Goodreads Summary: A tale about a cat and a dog who discover that even though they don’t look at things the same way, they can still be friends.

Hudson and Tallulah may be neighbors, but the fence between their yards isn’t the only thing that divides them. They can’t see eye to eye on anything. One day they venture out, and after nonstop disagreement, they realize something surprising: they don’t always have to agree to be on each other’s side.

About the Author and Illustrator: Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small as well as series titles That’s (Not) Mine, I Am (Not) Scared, and We Are (Not) Friends. They also wrote and illustrated Eraser, Can I Tell You a Secret?, and Will You Help Me Fall Asleep? Christopher’s work can also be seen in The New Yorker, and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their rescue dog, Hudson, the inspiration behind the character in this book. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.

Twitter: @annakang27 @ChristophWeyant

Instagram: annakangbookschristopherweyant 

Facebook: Anna Kang – AuthorChristopher Weyant

★“New Yorker cartoonist Weyant’s illustrations, which use gouache, graphite, and lots of white space, carry the day, filling the dog’s and cat’s reactions to what they encounter with plenty of comic details (like the bold lettering conveying the dog-park dogs’ frantic barking at the cat). Madcap fun.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Charming cartoons convey the nearly wordless story augmented with dialogue between the two rivals…An amusing exploration of how opposite personalities can learn to appreciate their unique relationship.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Aptly captured by married team Kang and Weyant (You Are (Not) Small), the unlikely friends’ comic path to camaraderie unfolds nearly wordlessly, with expressive gouache and graphite scenes that burst with physical humor, showing that even those who fight like cats and dogs can be friends.” —Publishers Weekly

Review: I was really excited to received this book because I love Kang and Weyant’s work. But there was a 4-year-old thief in my house. He stole the book from right under me and loved it so much that he hid it in his room. I still had a week until the review, so I was casually looking for it from time to time. One night, I heard uproarious giggles. Curious what was making my son laugh so hard, I peeked in his room. There it was! Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides!

Me: Buddy, I need to review that book!

4yo: But I love it so much. Look! The dog slides under the fence and says “SEE YA!” [Lots of giggling.]

Me: Okay, well can you leave it outside your door tonight when you are done with it?

4yo: Only if you put it back in my room after YOU are done.

Needless to say, this book is very well loved in my house. I will admit that I can’t read it from start to finish without giggling myself. The facial expressions of Hudson and Tallulah are so funny. The words are spread across the page in a way that they invite my 4yo to read them. Kang and Weyant are masterful in their ability to capture character, and their characters are so accessible to early readers. This book is simply fantastic, and I recommend it highly.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation:  This belongs in every Pre-K, K, and 1st grade classroom (at a minimum!). Readers of all ages will love it, but specifically, it is a book that encourages kids to read. The personification of the animals is magnificent, and it would offer a good case study on figurative language and humor.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How are Hudson and Tallulah different? How are they similar?
  • How do the author and illustrator each use personification to enhance the story?
  • Why do you take sides? When might it be valuable to avoid taking sides?
  • What makes a good friend? Are Hudson and Tallulah good friends? Are you a good friend?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant; That’s (Not) Mine by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant; It’s (Not) Perfect by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant; We Are (Not) Friends by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant; Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**

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Sofia is an 9-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!

Dear readers,

Let me introduce you to my new best friend, A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer! I read this book with my mom for a “book battle“ in which we see who can finish their book first and actually have read it! I chose this book, a 500 something paged book and my mom read a 200 something paged book! I was so surprised when I finished my book first! This book pulled me in right from the start and I could not put it down! This book is recommended for ages 8-12!

Magic is strictly forbidden in the place and time this book takes place. The punishment for use of it is death. Madame Weatherbury is a very powerful fairy and wants to change that law. At the beginning of the book Madame Weatherbury is allowed to take two magical kids, one named Brystal from the Southern Kingdom. The world is split up in five sections, the Northern Kingdom, the Eastern Kingdom, the Southern Kingdom, the Western Kingdom and the In-Between.

Here is a map that shows the world back then. It is in the beginning of the book. Brystal is a kid in the Southern Kingdom, her father is a judge and her oldest brother is one too. Brystal’s second oldest brother is going to be taking a big test to become a judge too, soon. Brystal likes to stay up late and read books! Unfortunately, reading books is a crime, at least for girls. One time her mother catches her doing it! She gives Brystal a warning and takes all of her books but doesn’t tell her father anything because he hates Brystal as is. Brystal is expected to do chores like washing the dishes, cooking food and setting the table.

Just then Brystal’s biggest brother, Brooke, enters the dining room. He sends Barry, her second-oldest brother, a mean comment and then sits down at the table. After his butt hits the chair they all hear some commotion on the front of the house and they all stand up assuming it is father. They stand up because everybody always stands up to the judge in the courtroom and he expects that he is welcomed the same way at home. As they sit back down Brooke tests Barry in mental flashcards and gives him the wrong answer even when Barry says the right one! Brystal can’t stand her older brother lying to Barry so she yells out all of the correct answers and tells Brooke to stop telling him the incorrect answer. Her father is surprised and asks her in a stern voice how she knows all of that. Do you think that he will get really mad because then her mother tells him about the books that she was reading or do you think he will calm down after a while? And even better yet, it gets even better!

When I was reading this book I thought it would never end and I loved the idea! I also love this book because this book propelled me through its pages! It has so much detail and excitement in it! The author, I must say, did a beautiful job pushing the story along. So far this is my favorite read of 2021! It is of course a bit too early in the year to say that, BUT STILL! I also loved this book because the characters were so relatable and had many good and bad characteristics. During this book I noticed some changes in character and Brystal changed in a way I would have never imagined. I really enjoyed this book and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do! (I just figured out this is a series and the second book is called A Tale of Witchcraft by Chris Colfer! Also a third is coming out in September. It is called A Tale of Sorcery by Chris Colfer! I am really excited to read the second book in the series!!!)

**Thanks so much to Sofia for this review! We love that you not only beat your mom, but you found a new best friend!**

 

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