TJ and the Cunning Cantrip Competition by Kim Park
(Summary taken from amazon.com) "For the honor. For the glory. For... Dumphrey's??
Tora Jane Golden had high hopes of competing in The Cunning Cantrip Competition as a Grand Old House of Magic student. But alas, she gets placed in Dumphrey’s, school for the magically inept. It’s mortifying, having to wear the Dumphrey’s egg yolk yellow t-shirt around town, while all her friends wear prestigious school t-shirts. It’s no fun to be labeled a “dump” girl, a loser, but TJ’s not one for wallowing.
She’s a take action kinda gal—a feisty fireball of energy. Literally. She can shoot lightning bolts out of her foot, a feat that would be awe-amazing if only she knew how to control it.
In danger of setting herself and everything around her on fire, TJ must learn to temper her bursts of anger and reign in her fiery attitude if she hopes to win the Cunning Cantrip title.
TJ & The Cunning Cantrip Competition is a story with feverish flavor, a playful look at what it takes to balance an ambitious nature with the heart and humility of a true champion."
This is a really cute and fun story. I love the creativity and imagination in this book. The characters are well developed and likable. They're realistic and have their flaws along with their moments to shine. Tora Jane (aka TJ) is such a great character. She's a normal 12 year-old who just wants to do her best. She also doesn't want to go to summer magic school at the embarrassing Dumphreys. It's the worst one. And she wants to win the Cunning Cantrip Magic Competition....she'll never win there. Her friend Abby is cute as well. I liked Lianne and Jeffrey also. I thought they all added their own touch to the story and worked well together. I liked that they all had different strengths and weaknesses, and they learned that when they worked together they did much better. I also liked that they had to practice a lot to get where they needed to be. I liked all the interesting spells and creatures, along with the magical tools they had. It's not all cute and fun, though. There are a few characters and scenes that are scary. Tarsh, for example, scares me. And some of the creatures that are in the tunnels creep me out. I liked how the story played out. There was enough scary stuff and adventure that I think boys will like it, and the main character is a girl so I think girls will like it as well. It's clean, which is fantastic! No language or anything else questionable, just some slightly scary scenes and creatures. Yay! A great middle-grade-YA read! I think it would make a fun read-aloud for kids as well.
Rating: PG (Just some slightly scary scenes and creatures.)
Recommendation: Third Grade and Up. (My son read all the Harry Potter books in third grade, so this would be a piece of cake.) I think my sixth and fifth graders will enjoy it.
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.