Root Magic

Book review by
Barbara Saunders, Common Sense Media
Root Magic Book Poster Image
Girl discovers her power in tender fantasy novel.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Introduces readers to Gullah-Geechee people, descendants of enslaved Africans who have maintained their cultural traditions through many generations in southern U.S. Main characters are living through desegregation of public schools in early 1960s.

Positive Messages

Education is power. People and things are not always what they seem. 

Positive Role Models

Depicts a loving family, built and nurtured by its late matriarch. Adults protect the children and prepare them, practically and supernaturally, for racism that increasingly affects them as they move into adolescence at the cusp of the civil rights movement. There are a number of helpful and supportive adults, such as a school nurse and a new sheriff who wants to cure past injustices.

Violence & Scariness

Police conduct unwarranted searches, intimidate and beat citizens, make unjust arrests. A man is attacked by a supernatural creature in cooperation with wild animals. There's a murder. In one scene, animals are harmed in the process of making traditional medicines.

Language

A girl is called a "bastard" at school, and her mother explains what it means and why the term shouldn't shame her.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Eden Royce's Root Magic is about 11-year-old Jezebel and her twin brother, Jay, two African American children who are growing up in South Carolina in 1963, just as their school is being racially desegregated. They come from a family of "rootworkers" with supernatural knowledge. Their mother abandons her study of these folk teachings, but her brother, Doc, persuades her to let him pass the knowledge to the children. Police conduct unwarranted searches, intimidate and beat citizens, and make unjust arrests. A man is attacked by a supernatural creature in cooperation with wild animals. There's a murder. In one scene, animals are harmed in the process of making traditional medicines. A girl is called a "bastard" at school, and her mother explains what it means and why the term shouldn't shame her.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKellymmoody March 14, 2021

Beautiful and intense book

This is a wonderful story full of goodness and family values. Please know there are some very intense parts and kids under 11 should probably read this with an... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

When ROOT MAGIC begins, 11-year-old Jezebel and her brother, Jay, are at their grandmother's funeral. Grandmother was a "rootworker." The community came to her for magical protection and healing. Jezebel's uncle, Doc, tells their mother he wants to instruct the children in these magical arts. Their mother wants them to focus on the education they'll get in school because she believes that knowledge is most important as they go forward in life. Doc convinces her that they should pursue both kinds of wisdom. 

Is it any good?

In this tender story, a family learns to cherish its history, heal from its traumas, and take advantages of the changing world. In Root Magic, first-time author Eden Royce artfully presents the universal challenge of straddling two worlds by introducing a family who has to do that in more ways than one: They practice a form of folk magic that originates in Africa, but live in the United States. The younger generation are in the final months of their childhood, with Jezebel anticipating getting her first period. The twins are approaching the time when their lives move apart, as their gender begins to matter more. And South Carolina is desegregating the schools, thrusting the family out of its familiar community into a new world of possibilities. A strength of this novel is the combination of a luxuriously slow pace with moments of intense drama and excitement.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the special family tradition in Root Magic. What's something special in your family history?

  • Is there someone from your family who has had an especially great influence on you?

  • Have you ever had a friend who was very different from you? How did you see past your differences?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love magical stories and grandparent tales

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