This lively, funny tale from tween favorite Lisa Papademetriou delivers life lessons, spine-tingling adventure, and surprising connections as 12-year-old girls discover a magical book. Many a kid will relate to the non-magical issues that face the characters -- being dumped by your best friend, coping with a bully, trying to make sense of cultural differences -- and the benevolent forces that come into play as stories unfold and intertwine.
Some readers may find Papademetriou's helicopter-narrator tendency to jump in with side comments and explanations a bit much, but she manages a pretty irresistible mix of multiple cliffhangers, appealing characters, exotic adventure, and laugh-out-loud moments, such as this encounter with the local bully:
"Kai came from the big city, and she had a plan for almost everything. Her plan for people who wanted to rob her or threaten her was this: Make them think you're dangerously crazed. So when Pettyfer looked at her, she grabbed two fistfuls of her own hair and roared, then charged directly at him, screaming, 'Yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yiiiiiiiiiiiii!'
"Pettyfer fell over backward, scrambled to his feet, and took off, tripping over his enormous, expensive shoes."