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Baker's Magic Hardcover – February 1, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—A cozy fantasy adventure featuring strong female characters. In the Holland-esque kingdom of Aradyn, hungry orphan Bee's theft of a pastry leads to a job and temporary home in a bakery. Bee's newfound happiness magically infuses her baked goods with positive feelings, and the business's increasing popularity attracts the attention of the palace. Powerful mage and pastry lover Master Joris has become guardian to the orphan princess, is holding her captive, and has converted all arable land into valuable tulip fields at the expense of trees. Using magic from the village blacksmith's assistant, Bee helps the lonesome Princess Anika escape a forced marriage. As their shoddy vessel sinks, the group is saved by a crew of tulip-hijacking pirates led by the fierce Zafira Zay. A high seas adventure leads to surprising discoveries about assumed-dead relatives and long-lost trees. The plucky orphan finding magic and friendship is not a new theme, but ample action and charming characters like Bee, Princess Anika, and Captain Zafira Zay make this an entertaining read with an empowering message for girls, while still maintaining cross-gender appeal. Fans of Lisa Graff's A Tangle of Knots (Philomel, 2013) or Ingrid Law's Savvy (Dial, 2008) will find a satisfying analogue in this volume. A recipe for the prominently featured delicacy "Bouts Buns" is included. VERDICT Text complexity and a wholesome plot make this a good choice for higher-level readers in lower grades. A solid addition to larger middle grade collections.—Deidre Winterhalter, Niles Public Library, Niles, Illinois
About the Author
Diane Zahler is the author of four middle-grade fairy-tale retellings: The Thirteenth Princess, A True Princess, Princess of the Wild Swans, and Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters. She has also written two nonfiction books for older readers, The Black Death and Than Shwe’s Burma, and a nearly infinite quantity of textbook materials for elementary and high school students. She’s made her home in Seattle, Morgantown, Ithaca, Solana Beach, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Belgium, but now lives with her husband and dog in an old farmhouse in the Hudson Valley. She really likes baking – and eating what she bakes.
Top customer reviews
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WHAT I LIKED
+ Baker’s Magic starts off with a grim look into Bee’s unfortunate plight – she’s an orphan and has run away from her abusive environment which adds a degree of believability to the prose and makes the premise far more palatable. There’s more to this bleak side of the coin though as Diane Zahler brilliantly grants our broken protagonist magical baking powers, and this my dear readers is where the real adventure with Baker’s Magic truly begins. I smiled endlessly and constantly craved the sweets mentioned in this book and for this, my waistline is thankful!
+ Baker’s Magic offers a huge amount of character development for a stand alone novel. adding an extra layer on the complexity to the plot. Still and all, my absolute favorite character was Bee; the headstrong, zealous, and impetuous protagonist who at the heart of everything she did, held a deep sense of love and honor for all things. Even Master Joris – the antagonist – is given a clear motive for his actions. There’s a compelling twist in the way each character interacts with one another too. They each realize 'in the yonder of their journey together' that it doesn’t matter what class or group of people you belong to, you can still love and care for someone who is vastly different from who you are. Another character I just couldn’t stop gushing about was Princess Anika’s hedgehog ' I thought it was incredibly clever to pepper a story with such an adorable yet terrifying companion.
+ To its credit, Baker’s Magic is the type of book that makes the reader feel. From the intense action scenes to the riveting seafaring ships and their privateers, to the breathtaking landscapes, and the intimidating presence of mages, this book truly managed to reach new heights in delivering the essence of a good quality story and Diane Zahler deserves the utmost respect for achieving this feat!
+ In addition to the mood and tone of the book, Bee’s homeland is impressive too. It brims with fantastical creatures and characters such as wizards, blacksmiths, butterflies with human heads, pirates, mages, and forest spirits. The setting also makes a strong impact on environmental awareness, and this is where I walked away with a heartrending reality, that reality being that we (humans) are an unrelenting force when it comes to the preservation and stability of our planet. It’s hopeless knowing we unknowingly (and at times knowingly) destroy everything in our path for no apparent other reason than greed and pure evil. I truly hope this book instills the same convictions it did in me in the hearts of young readers who pick up this book.
+ The storytelling ' which is told in third person narration ' was impeccable. It is the sort of storytelling that keeps you up much too late at night because you are immersed in the unfolding of the plot and conflict. I especially loved how the sequence of events were not used as meaningless tools to help move the story along; every opening line, every aspect of each problem, the tension created by the conflict(s) each had a purpose and everything resolved in a meaningful and beautiful way. This along with Diane Zahler eloquent writing makes the entire book remarkably exceptional and I really don’t know how else to justify this review. You’ll need to read this book for yourself in order to understand my love and adoration for Baker’s Magic.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
This book is sheer perfection, the product of an author at the top of her game!
I wholeheartedly adored this book, it has the perfect amount of magic and adventure from start to heartwarming finish. I highly recommend it to all! A notable read for 2016 for sure!
Flowers, Magic, Pirates, Princesses, Maidens, Kidnapping, Bees, Bugs, Baking and Mayhem -- Oh My!
Bee has always been alone. While wandering around in a new kingdom, Bee stole a bun from a bakery out of desperation. She was immediately caught but the baker took pity on her. Taking her under his care, they both realize Bee is an amazing baker. When one of Bee's friends needs help, Bee stops at nothing to protect those she loves. Together they embark on a journey to save her friends and the kingdom while protecting all she holds dear.
The heartwarming story is filled with quirky cute characters. The book is full of adventure and imagination. I can see how this can be a favorite about middle school age children and it teaches them a valuable lesson on believing yourself while protecting your family.
*Disclosure - I received a free uncorrected eBook copy of this book for my honest opinion*
Baker's Magic is a longer story that I expected, I had a digital copy but the one I found at my library was 330 pages. This isn't something I was expecting as the book is meant for kids ages 8-12. I'm not at all saying that middle grade books shouldn't be long like this, it just surprised me.
I was also surprised at the tone of the book. The overall writing felt like it would go back and forth between being a much younger book to an older middle grade book. Because of the tone I found it hard to enjoy Baker's Magic quite as much as I could have. But overall it was an enjoyable afternoon that I spent reading it.
I gave Baker's Magic three stars on Goodreads and I was given a copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
This book is about love, friendship, loyalty, perseverence and courage. A great story for children grades 3 to 8. It can also be enjoyed by older people, even as an adult I enjoyed this story. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.