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A Dash of Magic: Bliss, Book 2

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
A Dash of Magic: Bliss, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Young cook battles wicked aunt in fun, Paris-set sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A Dash of Magic is much more for amusement than education. But the historical and Parisian window-dressing, from ghosts of the French Revolution to all the usual tourist destinations, may be some kids' first encounter with the subject matter and an inducement to find out more. Brother Ty is fond of showing off his often fractured Spanish, especially to French speakers.

Positive Messages

A Dash of Magic celebrates family, friends, tradition, and fond togetherness -- as, ultimately, the only thing more powerful than Lily's scheming ways. The Bliss family has an excellent work ethic and community spirit when it comes to baking and magic; courage, resourcefulness, and wackiness help them pull unlikely but effective solutions from thin air.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The whole Bliss family is notable for their devotion to one another, even when someone slips up or does something annoying. They help each other out in crucial if unpredictable ways, bringing each character's strengths and silliness to the problem.

Violence & Scariness

Rosemary and Lily may be enemies, but their conflict is generally quite civil and often conducted in conversation before the cameras. An animal who's helping Rosemary falls into Lily's clutches and seems to be in danger. Some scenes take place in the catacombs of Paris amid lots of bones, while others involve such potentially scary characters as ghosts and gargoyles -- who turn out to be interesting, quirky, and potentially helpful.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's silliness, celebration of family, and positive messages galore in A Dash of Magic, the sequel to Bliss. Budding pastry chef Rosemary tries to get the family's magical recipe book back from her villainous Aunt Lily -- a quest that takes the whole Bliss family, as well as a talking cat, to a prestigious cooking competition in Paris. Among those who come to their aid  are gargoyles and ghosts, including Marie Antoinette, who has trouble keeping her head on -- but the treatment is more comic than scary. Expect a little comic flirting and some scenes set in the Paris catacombs.

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What's the story?

The town of Calamity Falls has lost all its magic since villainous Aunt Lily bamboozled the bakers' children and ran off with their book of magic recipes (as described in Bliss). Now Aunt Lily is a cooking celebrity with a slavish following, destined to grow larger as Lily's Secret Ingredient appears on supermarket shelves. Twelve-year-old Rosemary Bliss, who blames herself for the whole disaster, is determined to get the book back and restore harmony, so she sneaks into Lily's studio audience and challenges her to a duel -- at an upcoming, world-televised pastry competition in Paris -- with the book as prize. In order to hold her own against Lily, who cheats at everything, Rose needs more than A DASH OF MAGIC, as she has to enlist the aid not only of her family members but a talking cat, a helpful mouse, a few gargoyles, and Parisian locals both living and dead.

Is it any good?

Like its own famous Angel's Breath Food Cake, A Dash of Magic is sweet, frothy, insubstantial, and irresistible. The characters may be a bit one-note individually, but collectively they and the comical, fast-moving plot combine for a light, harmonious, amusing confection.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why magic is so popular in kids' books. What other books have you read in which magic plays a big part in the plot?

  • Do you watch cooking shows on TV? Do you think they're interesting or silly? Why?

  • Have you been to Paris, or would you like to go? Which of the popular spots that the Bliss kids check out would you like to visit?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love fantasy and magic

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