A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Magic and fantasy are more important here than academic subjects, but Bite-Sized Magic offers a chance to ponder such issues as good and bad government regulations and who benefits from them, as a new regulation forces all small bakeries to shut down. Rose's brother Ty is forever including bits of high-school Spanish in his conversation. A mouse character speaks French.
Love for your family -- and taking responsibility as a family member -- is an essential theme. There also are strong messages about friendship, working together, solving problems creatively, and the magical properties of a mother's love.
Positive Role Models
Brave, resourceful, devoted to her family and inspired by the mission of spreading joy through baked goods, Rose also is a believable 12-year-old who gets confused and makes mistakes. Adult members of her family are mostly in the background in this installment, though they're loving and supportive and sometimes supply an essential solution to the current problem. Rose's often-annoying brothers help save the day in clever, improbable ways.
Violence & Scariness
Rose is kidnapped; she and her family are held prisoner until she perfects the recipes with which the villains are planning to take over the world. " 'I want more than better snack cakes,' said Mr. Butter with a snarl....'Mostess Snack Cakes need to be so good people will kill for them...And you're going to make them that way -- or else.'"
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Rose has a crush on a boy her age, but he's absent for most of the story. Her brother has a crush on Katy Perry.
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Products & Purchases
Occasional references to pop-culture icons, such as Disneyland and Twilight, are used mostly as scene-setting, though "Gangnam Style" becomes a running joke. Alert kids may notice a resemblance between the villainous Mostess Snack Cake Corporation and its products to its real-life counterparts. Famous people, including Katy Perry and Warren Buffett, send Rosemary fan mail. Internet companies eBay and Facebook get brief mentions as characters refer to using their services.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Magical substances have good and bad effects when used in recipes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there's lots to like and little to worry about in Bite-Sized Magic, the third installment in Kathryn Littlewood's Bliss saga. It's something of a coming-of-age tale for 12-year-old Rosemary Bliss, who's kidnapped by villains bent on world domination through magical recipes. They need Rose's skills to perfect the recipes -- or terrible things will happen to her family, who've been taken hostage. Still, however dark the apparent peril, love, family, and creative thinking rule the day; as Rose's mom tells the kids, "I have very special children. You are good and clever, and you look out for one another. You will be fine."
Is It Any Good?
Like its predecessors, BITE-SIZED MAGIC is a frothy confection that's more silly than scary. It features an appealing heroine and a supporting cast that includes loving adults, annoying but helpful siblings, a snarky talking cat, and a mouse who speaks French.
With a fast-moving plot, wisecracks galore, and imaginative inventions such as the Caterwaul (basically, Facebook for felines), it'll keep kids engaged for its 400-plus pages. Along the way, it may entice them to think about bigger issues, such as how to run a good business and how bad laws can wreak havoc.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.