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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Just Add Magic is based on a book of the same name and tells the story of three friends who experiment with recipes that have magical effects on themselves and those around them. This wholesome series presents likable tween girls who value their friendship and always have each other's back and who strive to do the right thing even when it's not the easy thing. It also shows a tight-knit three-generational family that inspires Kelly's deep compassion for her grandmother and her realistically hot-cold affection for her younger brother. There's a little blurring of the line between good and bad, as some characters' intentions aren't obvious at the start, but nothing else should worry the grade school set.
What's the story?
In JUST ADD MAGIC, Kelly Quinn (Olivia Sanabia) grew up cooking alongside her grandmother (Barbara Brownell), but the grandmother's mysterious illness recently put an end to that. So when Kelly discovers an old cookbook that once belonged to her grandma, she decides to make something from it for her, but doing so has surprising consequences for those around her. With each magical recipe she tries, she and her best friends, Hannah (Aubrey K. Miller) and Darbie (Abby Donnelly), notice that something bad always accompanies the good effects, and the book's contents increasingly seem related to Kelly's grandmother's condition. As mysteries swirl and suspicious figures keep tabs on the girls' actions, Kelly, Hannah, and Darbie try to learn the secrets behind these ancient recipes.
Is it any good?
This enjoyable drama series has many good qualities, from a solid trio of friends in the forefront to how carefully the story respects multigenerational family units and traditions. Kelly is the product of a loving home and loyal friends, and both influences guide her decisions. That doesn't mean she's perfect at every turn, and her decision to dabble in magic unsupervised raises some issues parents and kids can discuss, but the fact that she's motivated by compassion more than mere curiosity works in her favor.
Just Add Magic is a solid series with enough mystery to keep kids coming back from one episode to the next. As magical shows go, there are few scares, but there are instances of duplicity in characters the girls trust. With many scenes showing Kelly and her friends concocting goodies in the kitchen, the show might stir an interest in your youngsters to cook up something new as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Just Add Magic presents a family compared to others kids have seen. Does a family always have two parents, siblings, and/or grandparents? Can a family include friends? In what ways does your family look different from Kelly's?
Why does Kelly keep the secret of the cookbook from her parents and brother? Is keeping a secret ever OK in a family? How do you keep the lines of communication open in your house?
Have your kids join you in the kitchen. What are some of your favorite meals or treats to enjoy together? What are the benefits of cooking for yourself? Do your kids like to try new foods?
- Premiere date: January 15, 2015
- Cast: Olivia Sanabia, Aubrey K. Miller, Abby Donnelly
- Network: Amazon Prime Video
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Book characters, Friendship, Great girl role models
- Character strengths: Compassion, Curiosity, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-G
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Seal
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