Parents' Guide to

The Courage of Cat Campbell

By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Appealing tale of would-be witch has laughs, insights.

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Kids determined to pursue a dream and getting a lot of discouragement will relate to Cat's plight as she faces one obstacle after another in her quest for a career in magic. Along the way, there are plenty of "be careful what you wish for" moments, as well-meant attempts at witchcraft cause scenes straight out of The Sorcerer's Apprentice -- which will be hysterically funny to some readers and a bit scary to others. There's a strong message, reinforced in various subplots, about why it's important to pursue your dreams and how nothing but harm will come of giving it up. (Young bakers also will love the recipes at the back of the book, which conveniently include substitutes for magic ingredients.)

As the central characters, Cat and her mom, Poppy (the subject of author Lowe's first book, The Power of Poppy Pendle), are appealing and complex enough to be interesting -- especially as one revelation follows another. Some of the supporting cast are a bit more cartoonish, often serving to advance the plot or add atmosphere. The story offers some interesting discussion points -- not only about pursuing your dreams but about how to handle it when things don't go your way.

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