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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Just Add Magic: Mystery City is a spin-off of Just Add Magic and follows the events of a bridge episode called Just Add Magic: New Protectors. A magic cookbook presents itself to a new trio of tweens who must learn to use its recipes carefully to solve problems and to unravel the mysteries that follow in its wake. The story is rich in themes of teamwork and self-control as the tweens learn that even magic can have negative consequences and that often the easy solution isn't the best one. The characters must think critically about problems and work cooperatively to find answers, especially as the elusive mystery dictates their adventures through the city. This sharply written, family-friendly series features characters of diverse cultural backgrounds and centers on members of a recently blended family.
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What's the story?
JUST ADD MAGIC: MYSTERY CITY continues the tale of a storied magical cookbook that has found three new protectors in Zoe (Jolie Hoang-Rappaport); her stepbrother, Leo (Tyler Sanders); and their neighbor, Ish (Jenna Qureshi). Having first presented itself to Zoe, the book then beckoned to Leo, an aspiring chef, and Ish, a novice green thumb whose gardening abilities help cultivate the magic herbs and spices required by the recipes. But as the trio cooks up foods to help solve problems that arise, they discover that nothing is as easy as it seems and that downsides often complicate matters more than they help them! To muddle matters even more, their fates are tied to mysterious events in the past that seem destined to alter their future in some unknown way.
Is it any good?
The notable lack of iffy content, positive portrayal of family dynamics, and culturally diverse cast round out a truly wonderful and attractive series. Just Add Magic fans were left wondering what was next for the powerful cookbook after it moved on from Darbie, Kelly, and Hannah's hands, but this superb spin-off makes the wait worthwhile. Zoe, Leo, and Ish don't have instant chemistry, and so joining forces as the book's protectors takes extra effort and determination on all their parts. Alongside the tweens' often misguided efforts to fix things using magic (and then to fix the fixes themselves!) are some really likable examples of relationships that don't gloss over the inevitable bumps in the road. In particular, new step-siblings Zoe and Leo must learn how to live together in a blended family and work together effectively for the sake of their magical destinies.
Mystery City doesn't presume that viewers will know the background of the cookbook, its powers, and how it came to belong to Zoe, and so it's easy to get up to speed from the first episode. Like its parent series, this show boasts exceptional writing, well-crafted characters, and a curious storyline that reveals itself at the perfect pace to keep the interest of kids and adults alike.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Zoe, Leo, and Ish keep secret the existence of the cookbook and the magic it contains. How might exposing the truth put the magic at risk in Just Add Magic: Mystery City? Is it ever appropriate to keep a secret from your family? On the other hand, why is communication essential to strong family relationships?
This series presents many different kinds of families, including Zoe's and Leo's blended family and Ish's multigenerational one. How do they compare to your own? What qualities and challenges exist in every family regardless of what they look like?
These stories involve magic that's cooked up in the kitchen. Does it inspire you to become interested in cooking? Does food play a role in your family's traditions? How can the culinary arts help facilitate relationships between generations?
- Premiere date: January 17, 2020
- Cast: Jolie Hoang-Rappaport, Tyler Sanders, Jenna Qureshi
- Network: Amazon Prime Video
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Cooking and Baking, Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters
- Character strengths: Self-control
- TV rating: TV-Y7
- Available on: Streaming
- Last updated: August 12, 2021
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