Guest Review: Magyk by Angie Sage


Guest Reviewer: Grace, UCF Elementary Education Student

Magyk (Septimus Heap Book One)
Author: Angie Sage
Published March 2nd, 2005 by Bloomsbury Publishing

Summary: The first part of this enthralling new series leads readers on a fantastic journey filled with quirky characters, clever charms, potions and spells, and a yearning to uncover the mystery at the heart of this story…who is Septimus Heap?

The 7th son of the 7th son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a newborn girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son, Septimus?

Angie Sage writes in the tradition of great British storytellers. Her inventive fantasy is filled with humor and heart: Magyk will have readers laughing and begging for more.

About the Author: Angie Sage began her career illustrating books, and then started writing – first toddler books, later chapter books and then the masterful Septimus Heap. She lives in a fifteenth-century house in Somerset. She has two grown-up daughters.

Review: Magyk is an interesting fantasy adventure that provides children an alternative to the increasingly controversial Harry Potter series. It has themes of wizardry/magic and adventure and focuses on a small group of young characters that age throughout the series.

Magyk and the rest of the Septimus Heap series promotes gender equality as it has several strong female characters and shows women in positions of power without questioning from other characters. In addition, this book and its series promote friendships between characters not only of different genders but of different backgrounds and races.

This book also has strong themes of found-family as well as other complicated family relationships that can be comforting to children without a more traditional nuclear family structure. One of the main characters, Jenna, has been adopted and struggles with her relationships with her non-adopted siblings. This is explored further in later books in the series when she meets her biological father and learns the identity of her birth mother.

The series associated with Magyk grows with its reader as Septimus, the main character, ages throughout the series. The books introduce increasingly mature themes over time, introducing readers to new ideas as they are ready for them.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book touches upon the idea of found family. This theme could be implemented in the classroom to help students better understand the importance of relationships between themselves and those around them. Highlighting the importance of the people we surround ourselves with and the aid they can provide is an important lesson to learn as it gives us strength to go about our day.

This book also teaches students to trust themselves and bare more responsibility as time goes by. Throughout the book, the characters discover that true power comes from themselves. It is only by trusting themselves and working hard that can they achieve their goals. This teaches students the importance of a good work ethic and how you have to work in order to achieve your goals. By adding additional responsibilities to characters throughout the book you can see how their wants and needs change over time however, this does not take away from the goals and aspirations they want to achieve.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Although Jenna is not related to the Heaps by blood she is raised as their daughter. How does Jenna’s relationship with her parents differ from that of her “siblings”?
  • Boy 412 and Jenna both have complicated pasts. How does their relationship change throughout the book as they learn more about themselves and each other?
  • How does Boy 412 relationships with others vary compared to how other children in the book make relationships?
  • How do the circumstances in which Jenna and Boy 412 discover their identities vary? How does this affect how they react to the news?
  • Boy 412 was raised in a militaristic environment, how does this shape the person he has become? If he was raised in a different environment do you think his personality would be different?
  • How do Marcia, Sarah, Zelda, and Silas treat the children differently? Why do you believe they have such different approaches?

Flagged Passages: 

“Oh it’s a pebble… But it’s a really nice pebble Dad thanks.”

Read This If You Love: Books about witches/wizards, Books that age with you

Recommended For: 


Thank you, Grace, for your review!!


Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds


Sofia is an 8-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia will share 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,

This book is entertaining for ages young and old and is very sweet. It is called…The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds! This picture book has been recommended to me by my little sister and she loves the illustrations. I do too. I recommend this book to teachers and parents for read alouds for any age.

I am going to tell you what my family thinks about this book. My sister says “I love everything about this book!” My dad says “It’s a good book!”(Translated out of my dad’s language that means amazeballs!) My mom says “This book is beautiful beyond words!” And I think it definitely deserves a review!

Jerome collects words. Some words catch his interest. Some are multi-syllable while some have only one syllable. Jerome writes these words on tiny scraps of paper and sticks those scraps into the fitting book for the word. For example, the word Peru would go in a book called Geography. But one day Jerome slips and his words get mixed up! After that he sees words in a different way. He makes poems and songs with his words and they delight people.

I love this book because it teaches wonderful lessons. For example the book teaches that small nice words can make people’s day. I also like this book because of its eye catching illustrations. The illustrations are by the author, Peter H. Reynolds, and I think he did a quite lovely job. Happy reading!

If you love the lessons this book teaches, the wonderful illustrations and are just wanting to get another of Peter H. Reynolds books, then I definitely recommend The Dot by him.

**Thank you, Sofia, for your continued brilliance. You inspire us!**

Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: Front Desk by Kelly Yang


Sofia is an 8-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia will share 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,

I am going to recommend a book about an amazing girl who went through a lot of hard times and stayed brave. This amazing book is called Front Desk by Kelly Yang. This book is recommended for ages 8-12.

Mia is an immigrant from China and moves to America. She lives in a car for some time while her parents look for jobs. They see an ad in the newspapers saying there is a motel owner looking for an experienced motel manager. The ad says that the owner of a little motel in Anaheim, California is looking for someone to run the place. Mia’s parents jump at the chance and they get hired. They would also get paid a lot of money while doing it! Mia makes amazing friendships with customers and when she thinks nothing can go wrong the owner whose name is Mr. Yao lowers their pay. That means that there isn’t much money they are getting and that is bad. When Mia starts going to school more problems pop up. Like a girl named Lupe. She is Mia’s friend and Mia thinks it is because she told her she lives in a big house and has a golden retriever but none of that is true. It gets even worse when she realizes that the motel owner’s  son is in her class. The thing is the son is not exactly nice to her.

One person loses a job because of Mr. Yao and can not pay to stay in Mr. Yao’s motel anymore so Mr. Yao tells him to go. That person is one of Mia’s best friends and Mia hides him inside of the motel. Soon Mia’s immigrant relatives start coming and stay for free. Will Mr. Yao find them and kick them out or will Mia and her family keep the immigrants hidden from him?

There is so much more to this story but you have to read it for yourself.

I love this book because of all the suspense it gave me reading it. So many times I guessed the wrong thing that would happen next. I also love this book because it also really pulled me into the story. My parents could even listen to music and I wouldn’t even hear it! I also had that book with me everywhere I went. My parents almost couldn’t convince me for a bike ride, one of my favorite things! I hope you get as wound up in the book as I did!!

If this book leads you to want to know more of her story then check out the sequel called Three Keys! I have not read it yet but it is definitely on my Need To Read!!!!! list.

**Thank you, Sofia, for your continued brilliance. You inspire us!**


Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: My Favorite Books by Roald Dahl


Sofia is an 8-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia will share 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,

I have again decided to change things up a bit. This time I will be recommending several books by the same author. His name is Roald Dahl. I haven’t read many of his books, but the ones that I have read were truly amazing. They make great read-alouds, too. I recommend the books that I am covering in this review for about ages 7-12.

The first time I heard about this author’s creations was when my first grade teacher read my class Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, probably Roald Dahl’s most famous book. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is about a poor boy named Charlie Bucket who walks past Willy Wonka’s

factory on his way to school. Charlie always stops and sniffs the amazing smells of Wonka’s factory for he only gets one candy bar per year and that is on his birthday. That singular bar he gets on his birthday, he saves by nibbling little by little off each day. When Willy Wonka announces in the newspaper that five, only five, of his Wonka bars have a golden ticket inside that will get five lucky kids into the factory, everybody goes crazy about buying Wonka bars. It seems unlikely for Charlie to get the Golden Ticket but who knows, maybe he will be lucky…

I was very excited when my friend visited and gave me a collection of most of Roald Dahl’s children’s books. She even recommended Matilda which is now one of my favorite books by him. Matilda is about a girl named Matilda who loves to read and is super smart. Matilda’s parents are mean and force her to watch television when she would rather be reading a book, so she puts up a secret policy of her own… When Matilda is finally old enough to go to school she meets her nice teacher Miss Honey and her terrible principal Miss Trunchbull. Matilda is the smartest kid in her class because she reads so many books. Miss Honey is fascinated by Matilda’s knowledge and likes that she does not brag about it.

This book was so good I decided to read it to my four year old sister. Introducing Fantastic Mr Fox! Fantastic Mr Fox is about a father fox and his family. When it gets dark the father fox always carefully slips out of his home to steal some food from three mean farmers. Their names are Bean, Bunce and Boggis and they all run their own type of farm. They are very mean and know that he is stealing their stuff and are furious about it. They make plans to catch him, but none of them have worked so far. Can they do it or will Mr Fox outfox them?

The book that I am about to present to you is one that I read with my friend for a sort of book club. Presenting The Witches! The Witches is about a boy who has a grandma who tells stories about witches. She tells him always to be on the lookout for them because they can kill you and eat you. She tells him a few things that witches always have. First, a real witch is certain to have gloves. Second, a real witch is always bald but wears a wig that usually itches. Third, a real witch has slightly bigger nostrils. Fourth, a real witch has different eyes than normal people because where we have a black dot in the middle of our eye theirs change color all the time. There are more ways to identify a witch, but you need to read the book to find out. The grandma says that there is a Grand High Witch which is basically the queen of all witches. She is the meanest of all the witches and all of the witches are petrified of her. When the boy comes out to climb a tree one time, a strange lady suddenly appears under the tree and tells him to come down. The boy suddenly sees she has all the characteristics of a witch and starts to climb higher. Will the witch get him or will he escape?

This book must be popular among my teachers because after I read it my teacher read it, too. A perfectly magical book called The Magic Finger! The Magic Finger is about a girl who has a finger that shoots some sort of magic when someone makes her mad. Her neighbors have a habit of hunting and the girl doesn’t like them doing it. She thinks that it doesn’t seem right to kill animals just for the fun of it. The girl can’t help it, she puts the magic finger on them all, even the wife that does not hunt. Sorry, but you have to read the book to find out what happens to them.

In case it is not obvious why I like these books, it is because Roald Dahl is a great storyteller and his books are bursting with fantasy and crazy ideas. If you want to learn about the author, I highly recommend a book called Who was Roald Dahl? by True Kelly.

**Thank you, Sofia, for your continued brilliance. You inspire us!**


Sofia’s Kids’ Corner: The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill


Sofia is an 8-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia will share 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,

Hi! Are you searching for a book that makes you sad and happy at the same time? Then The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill would be a good choice. This book has gotten a Newbery Medal. It is recommended for ages 10-14 on Amazon, but I think an eight or nine year old that is good at reading could read it too.

In the woods lives a witch called Xan. She is nice, but the people of the Protectorate think she will bring harm to their town. Every year the Protectorate takes the youngest baby in the town and puts it in a big stone circle in the woods. The Grand Elders (the mayors) never thought there was a witch and thought the baby was going to be eaten by animals. They are not correct because every year Xan comes to the stone circle and takes the baby to a welcoming city called a Free City.

They call the child that Xan brings a Star Child and treat the day she comes like a holiday. Xan feeds the babies starlight while she carries them to a Free City. One time though she accidentally feeds a baby moon light by which she enmagicks her. This is a quote from the book: “There is magic in starlight, of course. This is well known. Moonlight, however. That is a different story. Moonlight is magic. Ask anyone you like.” Xan decides she cannot leave this baby with an ordinary person, so she decides to raise her as her own and names her Luna.

Antain is a boy of the Protectorate and an “Elder in training” when this book starts and grows older. As he grows older he decides not to be an Elder, instead he becomes a well known carpenter. He gets married and this time his wife’s baby is the youngest in the Protectorate and it is getting close to the day they take the baby away from them…This book is told from several different points of view. For example: Xan, the kind witch, Luna, Xan’s child, and a Protectorate mother.

I love this book so much because it teaches that if you haven’t met a person you can’t really say anything about them even if you are pretty sure it’s true. I also like this book because of a dragon that thinks he is really big even though he is the smallest thing ever.

This year before the coronavirus I was walking through our school library and saw this book. I didn’t pay much attention to it. I am kind of sad and kind of glad about that because later in the year I looked at what it was about on Amazon and decided to buy it with my pocket money. It was a great purchase.

I am excited to check out this other book by the same author called The Witch’s Boy. I hope it is as good as The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Enjoy!

**Thank you, Sofia, for your continued brilliance. You inspire us!**


Bone Soup: A Spooky Tasty Tale by Alyssa Satin Capucilli


Bone Soup: A Spooky Tasty Tale
Author: Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Illustrator: Tom Knight
Published: July 24, 2018 by Simon & Schuster

Goodreads Summary: Three little witches and a bunch of spooky characters come together to prepare a delicious batch of Bone Soup in this Halloween tale based on the beloved fable, Stone Soup. This just-scary-enough picture book comes with a recipe for Bone Soup—perfect for Halloween eating.

Trick-or-treat? Trick-or-treat!
We’ve something usually good to eat!

One Halloween morning three witches are looking for a tasty treat and they find only a small bone in their cupboard. So they decide to go from door to door in their village to find just the right ingredients for their Bone Soup. No one in the village is convinced that soup can be made from a bone, until the littlest monster reveals just what the special ingredient should be.

My Review: We received this book earlier in the month, and we’ve read it dozens and dozens of times. I was very excited about it and have held it in my pocket for Halloween! If you enjoy spooky, fun tales, this book is for you. I find myself walking around repeating, “It’s bone soup! Soup from the bone!” and “Piff-Poof!” The text is quite catchy, and it’s a highly entertaining read-aloud. This is a book that parents and teachers will find extra fun for their classrooms and homes. I recommend adding Bone Soup to your Halloween collection!

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Students might take a trip outdoors and gather their own materials for bone soup. For instance, a stick could be imagined as the bone from a pirate. Grass might be the hair from a goblin. Then, they can take their materials inside and craft their own class story together.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the sister witches interact?
  • How do they build their bone soup? What do they add to it?
  • What creative things would you add to your own bone soup?

We Flagged:

Read This If You Loved: Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson, Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt, Dragon’s Halloween by Dav Pilkey, Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex, Monster Mash (Babymouse #9) by Jennifer L. Holm, Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween by Melanie Watt; Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron

Recommended For: 



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

The Worst Witch Series by Jill Murphy


 worst witch worst witch 2 worst witch 3worst witch 4 worst witch 5 worst witch 6

The Worst Witch Series

The Worst Witch #1

The Worst Witch Strikes Again #2 

A Bad Spell for Worst Witch #3

The Worst Witch at Sea #4

The Worst Witch Saves the Day #5

The Worst Witch to the Rescue #6

By: Jill Murphy

Published by: Candlewick


Summary for Worst Witch #1: Mildred Hubble is a trainee witch at Miss Cackle’s Academy, and she’s making an awful mess of it. She’s always getting her spells wrong and she can’t even ride a broomstick without crashing it. Will she ever make a real witch?

Review: These books made me giggle. Mildred’s mistakes and misadventures as a witch are sure to entice young readers. I imagine beginning readers will fall in love with Mildred and her silly tales of woe. The illustrations make these excellent books for students who are just beginning to transition from picture books. Reading the books felt reminiscent of a Harry Potter series for younger readers, and they also reminded me of Amelia Bedelia. I adored these books and plan to read them to my son when he is older.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Students would have fun creating”To  their own worst witch scenarios. What kinds of spells can they imagine that could go horribly wrong? I would love to read this series to young children around Halloween.

Discussion Questions: How does Mildred fail as a witch? Why do you think she is so unsuccessful?; How does Mildred show perseverance? Is she brave?

We Flagged: “To tell you the truth, Mildred was afraid of the dark, but don’t tell anyone. I mean, whoever heard of a witch who was scared of the dark” (p. 11)?

Read This If You Loved: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, The Amelia Bedelia series by Peggy Parish

Recommended For: