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  • Sunayna Prasad

Review of Book, “Just Add Magic” by Cindy Callaghan

Three 12-year-old girls named Kelly Quinn (the main character), Darbie O’Brien, and Hannah Hernandez, find an old cookbook in the Quinn family’s attic. It happens to be a magical kind with interesting recipes full of surprises. The girls then form their own secret cooking club with their own special password.

They cook different foods that can magically make things happen to people. For example, when Kelly’s little brother, Bud, won’t stop making loud noises, especially with his singing, Kelly and her friends prepare something from the cookbook that gives Bud a sore throat so extreme that he can’t talk. Another memorable moment includes a bug juice that is also a love potion. That causes a boy named Frankie to develop strong feelings for Kelly, except that it occurred unnaturally.

But then there’s this neighbor who lives next door to Kelly, whom she dislikes. Her name is Charlotte Barney, and also attends school with Kelly in the same 7th grade class. Kelly is forced into a bet with Charlotte that if she loses the upcoming chili contest, she has to tidy up her yard in a clown costume.

I must admit how much I enjoyed the story, especially the characters. They felt real and believable.

For instance, many girls could relate to Kelly having an annoying little brother. However, that didn’t make him a bad person. After all, characters should have at least some flaws to make them realistic and likable.

Speaking of which, all three close friends had to deal with consequences from their actions, especially from the enchanted effects of the recipes in the cookbook. I won’t spoil anything, but I did appreciate how they learned from their wrongdoings and mistakes.

There is an important lesson about karma mentioned in the story. If you do good things, good things will happen to you. But if you do bad things, then the opposite will occur with you.

While on the topic of bad things, I despised the way Charlotte treated Kelly and her friends. However, I also found it odd that Kelly’s mom let Kelly go to Charlotte’s yard and pick some stuff. Not to mention how wrong and unethical that is. You never go to anyone’s property uninvited, even if you know him or her.

Another flaw is how the gym teacher still mandated that students who are hurt or injured perform exercises and stretches. He would have been reported and fired for enforcing such a guideline. But everyone just accepts it.

Oh, well. No story is perfect. Those were really the only parts that displeased me.

The book provided lots of twists and turns, both happy and unsatisfactory. Even with the sad surprises, it made the story’s events more believable. Sadly, not everything turns out the way we want.

I would rate this book 5 out of 5 stars, despite how it’s more than 200 pages. That kind of made me read the book more slowly.

But what I do admire is how each chapter starts with a list of “ingredients” and directions, a question followed by an answer, or just simply a title.

I would gladly recommend this book.

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