by IYWP Intern Robyn Henderson
Every family has its struggles and internal dramas, and these families just happen to have magic that factors into every aspect of who they are. This week’s recommendations focus on girls whose magic and love for their families challenge them to see the world around them differently. Enjoy!
Cici, A Fairy’s Tale: Believe your eyes by Cori Doerrfeld and Tyler Page
A lot is changing for Cici. Her parents are separating, her wacky abuela is moving in, and on her tenth birthday, she wakes up with fairy wings! Cici’s new magical powers let her see people as they truly are. But what she learns about her friends and family isn’t always easy to accept. She has only one day to decide whether to keep her wings. When Cici wishes life could just be normal again, will she choose to believe in the power of fairies?
Believe Your Eyes is the first volume in a graphic novel series about Cici, a ten year old Latina girl whose life is going through a lot of changes. However, despite all of the changes that she struggles with, Cici is all about perspective. The first half of the story focuses on how she sees the world around her as just a regular girl, while during the second half, her fairyhood (I think that’s a word…) pushes her to find a different perspective. Cici is a great, relatable protagonist, who handles change by avoiding it and the people who love her because she honestly doesn’t know what to do or say. I really enjoyed how the story brought her closer to her family when she discovered that both she and her Abuela had magical powers in common. This is a sweet, genuine story that shows the value of looking at the tough parts of life from a different perspective. I recommend it for kids from ages 7 to 11.
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. She knows that jumbies aren’t real; they’re just creatures that parents make up to frighten their children. But on All Hallows’ Eve, Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden woods. Those shining yellow eyes that follow her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they? Corinne begins to notice odd occurrences after that night. First sehe spots a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch at the supermarket. Then this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, cooking dinner for her father. Danger is in the air. Sure enough, bewitching Corinne’s father is the first step in Severine’s plan to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and ancient magic to stop Severine and save her island home.
The Jumbies has the feel of a folk tale. You know the kind I’m talking about, where three sisters who are sent on an errand and only the youngest is clever enough to outsmart a witch or something like that. Corinne, our Afro-Caribbean protagonist, feels like that type of heroine, one who is so rational and scientifically minded that she barely even believes in jumbies, but strategic enough that, when she does, she can make a plan and act on it without falling into a panic. This story is about family, and Corinne’s love for her father, as well as her mother who died when she was young, motivates her to protect the people around her in whatever way that she can. The Jumbies is a great middle grade novel for kids who like fantasy with a folk tale flavor mixed in.
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
Nothing says “Happy Birthday” like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives. Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin. The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland….
Labyrinth Lost is an exciting, fast paced YA adventure that follows Alex’s quest to rescue her family back from Los Lagos after she accidentally banishes them to Los Lagos, a sinister magical world. Accompanied by Nova, the aforementioned Mysterious Boy, and, spoiler alert, her best friend Rishi, Alex learns to accept her magic and use her power to set her family free. If you know a kid who loves YA, especially YA with (spoiler) LGBT characters, then they will probably enjoy this book. It follows the expected formulas and has a lot of the expected cliches, but it fills the roles differently and does very interesting things with the expected tropes. However, the summary that only focuses on Alex’s quest does the book a bit of a disservice. The first third is about Alex’s relationship with her mother, two sisters, and her aunt who died about ten years before the story starts. At its heart, this is a story about a family that has magic in its bones, and Alex’s acceptance of both her magic and her place in her family. The novel is very much female driven, so if you’re looking for stories about strong female characters who are growing into their powers, this one is for you.