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NYT bestseller J. Elle makes her MG debut in the delightful story of a girl who bakes up a plan to save her inner-city magic school.

Twelve-year-old Kyana has just discovered she’s a witch! This means classes every Saturday at Park Row Magic Academy, a learning center hidden in the back of the local beauty shop, and Kyana can’t wait to learn spells to help out at home. The only downside is having to keep her magic a secret from her BFF, Nae. But when the magic school loses funding, the students must pay huge fees at the fancy school across town or lose their magic! Determined to help, Kyana enters a baking contest with a big cash prize. Will she be able to keep up her grades while preparing for the competition and without revealing her magic? What about when a taste of magic works its way into her cupcakes?

Exciting up-and-coming author J. Elle combines the perfect balance of real-world issues and magical mishaps to create real magic.

357 pages, Hardcover

First published August 30, 2022

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About the author

J. Elle

13 books898 followers
J. ELLE is the New York Times bestselling author of young adult and middle-grade fantasy fiction and a 2022 NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Work for Youth and Teens. Her work has been translated into three languages. The former educator credits her nomadic lifestyle and humble inner-city beginnings as inspiration for her novels. When she’s not writing, Elle can be found on the hunt for new desserts sans Chocolat, looking for literally any excuse to get dressed up, and road-tripping her way across the country with her two dogs in tow.

Follow me on BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/j-elle

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 78 reviews
Profile Image for Ms. Woc Reader.
494 reviews668 followers
August 30, 2022
Kyana lives in the Park Row neighborhood with her mother and grandmother. After turning 12 she discovers that she descends from a long line of Magicks and is actually a witch. And there are more witches and wizards all around her neighborhood! Her mother enrolls her into a magic school that hosts sessions in a room behind their regular hair salon.

One thing I can say about all the Black girl magic school middle grade books releasing this year is that they're all very different and I appreciate the variety. While the spells are cool and cause some chaos I wanted more clarity about the inner workings of the magic system. There's so much room to tie in the beauty salon aspect more. And with Kyana being a potions witch I'm interested in seeing what she comes up with when she starts experimenting more in future books.

Where I think where this story truly shines is with the relationships Kyana has with her family, friends, and neighbors. Kyana lives in the hood where parts of the neighborhood are going through gentrification but at the same time lack of funding still affects her school including her new magic school which has less money compared to the other magic schools in the area. Themes of supporting your community are emphasized throughout the story. We're introduced to multiple characters of different economic standing and we see how that effects their day to day lives as well as attitudes.

The relationship Kyana has with her grandmother is not one I often see in books. Her grandmother or Memaw as she affectionately calls her, helps raise her and passes down family recipes and heirlooms. Memaw is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and J Elle takes care in her portrayal of how the family is dealing with it.

While the ending seemingly wraps up with a neat bow there's still much that can be explored. Overall the is was a pretty solid start and the fast pacing is sure to keep readers engaged.

Profile Image for Mary.
22 reviews2 followers
April 24, 2020
This book was so sweet and fun and engaging and I didn't want to put it down! It feels so fresh and fun and I LOVE magic schools, and this was the magic school I've been WAITING for.
Profile Image for Sasa.
252 reviews117 followers
November 29, 2022
3.5 stars

"once we have our trays of obligatory, unidentifiable cafeteria food, we veer through the crowd to a table. without a word, she takes my fruit and i take her chocolate milk. it's just our thing."

there’s a lot to love about this book. the history, the lore, the community, the worldbuilding, the politics interwoven (like gerrymandering), and the magic system were some of my favorite things. tethering unavailables—so cute and quirky in the best way possible! if you’ve read amari and the night brothers, it’s like finding out the lore of the elevators. it’s fantastic! the food was mouthwatering and i can’t wait to try the recipes in the back! the grandmother was the sweetest part of the book and made me miss mine 😭

with that said, this book should’ve been 50-100 pages shorter. it needed more of the coziness and camaraderie of the last 50 pages and less of the same chaos in the first 300. the mom never gives kyana time to feel upset (“don’t pout, get up and just do it” mentality) and i know she’s a kid but she kept making the SAME mistakes; she even admits it at around the 300page mark! beat for beat, it was kyana being a bad friend to her best friend naomi, making a magical blunder, and then trying to fix it and chase after her friend after getting ignored only for the cycle to restart. and the lifelong ride or die best friend who was getting sidelined and mistreated was the one to apologize! i can't stand that and it gave me some anxiety reading it constantly. i know all of the life changes were a lot for a 12-year-old to juggle and i wasn’t expecting therapy-level communication skills but 300 pages of miscommunication is too much. like i said, there’s so much to love about the world but this formula wasn’t one of them.

i can only hope that, with the bulk of the character development out of the way, we’ll get more magic than mayhem in the sequel.

trigger warnings: antiblack microaggressions (hair touching 2x; one done and another attempted), hair touching is unchallenged and only addressed as a brief inner dialogue of discomfort, bullying (kyana’s best friend naomi gets bullied pretty badly via recollection of her birthday party early in the book), ignoring friends and missing outings
Profile Image for Diana N..
501 reviews23 followers
June 25, 2022
A magic school in a real world setting and some baking too!

I liked that this book is set in a regular town and focuses on some middle school kids instead of creating a fantasy land for witches. The characters are relatable and their struggles can be translated to real world issues.

This story isn't overly complex and a bit predictable, but a good amount of content for the intended age group.

I hope Kyana has some follow-up adventures now that she has figured out her magic more.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a copy of this ARC for my honest review.
Profile Image for Jessica Shaut.
4 reviews1 follower
May 14, 2020
This MG gem is such an incredible read, filled with hope, humor, food, magic, and love! Every kid struggling to accept themselves, flaws and hidden talents alike, needs to read this story!
Profile Image for Janine.
332 reviews55 followers
August 5, 2022
A Taste of Magic by J. Elle is one of those books that feels like a slice of childhood and personal nostalgia that's perfect for all ages. While I was more familiar with her darker Wings of Ebony series, the impact of the life lessons hits just as well here. With lots of baking, Black Girl Magic, friendship and family, this Middle Grade contemporary fantasy is a fun and sweet story I won't forget anytime soon.

Kyana Turner discovers on her twelfth birthday that she's a witch, thinking about how she's going to help her family. However, it's not so easy as she has to juggle magic life with friendship and math. Kyana is a great protagonist and relatable to many, outgoing with the urge to help her family, yet wanting to dive into this new magical world, and I love her growth and determination throughout. The supporting cast was fleshed out too, with several layers of depth, and some characters surprising me by the end.

The story's well paced, juggling between Kyana's school life, family life and witch life, with most of the first half focusing on the new world of magic she's enveloped in by her discovery, before the second half focuses on baking and saving the new life she's grown to love. I laughed quite a bit throughout, and I appreciated the nods to Black culture (I love that J Elle isn't shy to add all the things in her books), including the hair texture activated wands and that the magic school is in a hair salon! I'm sure my younger self would have loved that! Regarding the magic side of things, there's a whole culture under mainstream society that comes with rules, potions, spirits, magical ferrets, wands based on hair texture, but my favorite was the ability to transport people into Nintendo games (something that's been a dream of kids since the 1980's). The baking portions are just as prominent, reminding me of my childhood days in the kitchen, and with the focus on magical potions, it was a perfect match for this story. I like how everything ties into the themes of community and determination in something that's easy to grasp for kids, but still resonates with adult readers, making this a great read for both to read together. While parts of this book made me nostalgic of my own childhood, it fits right at home with the kids of 2022.

There's also three recipes in the back of the book, which I can't wait to try out.

This is highly recommended for those that like contemporary fantasy with a whimsical and more "Disney-esque" feel, no matter how old you are. I await to see what type of adventures Kyana will go on next and await more books from J. Elle!

*I received an ARC from the publisher, Bloomsbury. All opinions are my own.*
Profile Image for Kathreadall.
354 reviews15 followers
August 30, 2022
This magical middle grade fantasy by author J. Elle was so good!

I really enjoyed the story of Kyana finding her magic, and the school she has to fight to keep open! This book addressed issues of racism and classism in an assessable way, giving the reader a fun magical adventure while tacking these important issues.

Kyana was such a strong character, and I really enjoyed her journey. I also liked most of the supporting characters, though Russ was hard to take, and his backstory didn't make sense to me fully.

But I still really enjoyed this book!
Profile Image for Isabella (The Feminist Bookworm).
437 reviews54 followers
April 1, 2022
My official blurb: Funny and sweet and absolutely charming. Middle grade readers will be going wild for this gem of a novel that is literal Black Girl Magic.

Obviously, I LOVED this book, and it was so fun reading it in book form this time!
Profile Image for Blkgrlreading89.
50 reviews17 followers
September 5, 2022
A Taste of Magic is a really unique take on a magic school and magic system! Park Row Magick Academy is not the super fancy magic school you’re use to. It’s located in the back of a Black woman owned beauty salon. The school is extremely underfunded and lacking the resources it needs for it’s students to thrive. It has only lasted this long because of its dedicated teacher Ms. Mo. PRMA mirrors many of the schools in poor, underfunded areas all over this country.

Middle grade stories have some of the most genuine and pure relationships. Kyana has a multigenerational living arrangement with her mama and Memaw. They are such a tight knit family even though Kyana’s mom works a lot. Aside from Kyana, Memaw was my favorite character! She was constantly dropping this little nuggets of wisdom and nurturing Kyana’s passions which reminded me of my own grandma 🥰 I also adored Kyana’s friendship with Nae and the new bonds she formed with the Magic kids at Park Row Magick Academy like Ash and Russ.

A key takeaway from A Taste of Magic is that a Black child can make a mistake and not be vilified for it. Too often in our society black and brown kids are not given the grace to make mistakes and learn from them. It was refreshing to see Kyana be allowed to make a mistake, realize it and come up with a solution with the support of not only her family but the witch community as well.

The common household substitutions for magical ingredients Kyana found and used from the old spell book Memaw gave her were really ingenious! For example creaming together Kool Aid powder and cocoa butter as a substitute for slug skin paste when making the antidote potion.

The food descriptions throughout the book had my mouth watering. I never wanted a bowl of gumbo or a slice of cake so bad in my life! Being a GA girl, I agree with Memaw that the best food you’ll ever find is down south 😉

So much of this story resonated with me and I know BIPOC kids especially Black kids are going to love it. I can’t wait to see where this new series goes!

Thank you NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books for an eARC of A Taste of Magic in exchange for an honest review.
57 reviews
August 13, 2022
Kyana has just found out that she is a witch. She has to balance her new weekend witch training, middle school classes, and her friends. What happens when all of a sudden her witch training school is going to be shut down, she makes a mistake while trying to save it, and she her best friend is mad at her? Well that’s a lot for one 12 year old girl.
This book isn’t just about magic and cooking. There are so many great things discussed like owning your mistakes, apologizing when your wrong, and so many others. I think this would make such a great middle school book club book. (I might even do it for my middle school library.) I will definitely get a copy and recommend it.
Profile Image for Antoinette.
77 reviews6 followers
August 3, 2022
A charming story about a magic school, baking, friendship, and determination. When Kyana discovers she's a witch she finds herself lying to her BFF, trying to learn spells that will help her overworked mom around the house, and entering a baking competition to save the magic school in her neighborhood. I loved the determination Kyana had to fix her mistakes, prove adults around her wrong, and show that even though she and her friends are young, they can solve big problems. Middle school students will truly enjoy it!
Thanks, NetGalley!
Profile Image for Nikki S.
1,441 reviews64 followers
September 7, 2022
This was magicky and Blackity, Black, Black and I LOVED IT. Real review to come.
Profile Image for Pippin.
178 reviews21 followers
Want to read
June 7, 2020
Heard about this on Twitter and I just...I'm all in. I can't WAIT!! Magic school goodness! Black main character! How lovely!!!
Profile Image for Jenn.
4,063 reviews43 followers
May 22, 2022
Elle's book about a Black girl who enters a baking contest to save her magic school is so full of fun and heart that I can't wait for more! Kyana's magic has just come in and she's started magic school on Saturdays in the secret room at her hairdressers. But redistricting means that her school might not be able to continue due to lack of funding. So what else is a new witch to do but use her baking skills to enter a contest, win the money, and save the day!

At first, I thought there was just too much going on. But I settled in and realized that it's not too much....it's just right. This was a fun one to read. It read older to me than, say, Amari and the Night Brothers. Not for content, but maybe because there was a good amount of slang that you don't usually see in middle grade? I don't know. It's nothing that would keep me from recommending this at all. In fact, I have a few customers in mind for this one at our store once it comes out...
Profile Image for Courtney.
1,206 reviews27 followers
June 14, 2022
This is cute. I think that it checks a lot of boxes and people who are looking for those boxes will appreciate this addition to their collection/reading. My personal problem with it is the sloppy world building/magic system. It's kind of nonsensical but without it, there wouldn't be a story, but I don't like nonsensical magic systems.
Profile Image for Ms. Yingling.
1,408 reviews491 followers
November 8, 2022
ARC provided by the publisher

Kyana lives in the Park Row neighborhood of Rockford, and goes to Thomspson Middle School with her best friend, Nae. It's an area that struggles a bit, but is progressive; Key is able to take a class on African American History and Diaspora studies. Her mother works long hours on her feet, but has the support of her mother, Meemaw. When Kyana sees sparks flying from her fingers and starts to notice similar light around various businesses in the neighborhood, she wonders what is going on, but her mother tells her that it is her magical powers coming to the surface a little early. There are a lot of rules surrounding dealing with magic, and one is that Kyana must attend a magical school for six months to learn how to use her powers. If she doesn't, she will have to be "sanitized" and have all of her magic removed. Even though it means missing Nae's birthday party, Kyana reports to Ms. Moesha's Park Row Magic Academy in the back of Ms. Moesha's beauty salon. There are about 30 other students, including the popular Russ, who goes to Kyana's school. She makes friends with Ashley, and hopes to get chosen for the Charms specialty, since that is a path that leads to good job prospects. There are only two people chosen for that, and only one chosen for Potions. Most students end up in the general magic path. Kyana struggles with math in her regular school, and struggles with many different aspects of her magical training as well. It is intersting to learn about the magical community, which has come to the US from Winzhobble, and is having some difficulties that aren't apparent to the outside world. She also has to deal with lying to Nae, which puts a strain on her relationship. Her grandmother is starting to slip further and further into dementia, which increases the burden on Kyana's mother. When funding runs out for the Park Row Academy, the students are all in danger of having their magic stripped from them. They are given the opportunity to go to other magical schools, but the cost, as well as the matter of transportation, is not something that Kyana and her family can bear. Hoping to save her school, Kyana uses her skills as a baker to enter a competition, but things don't go all that smoothly. Will Kyana be able to reverse her spells that have gone wrong, learn to control her magic, and save her neighborhood school?
Strengths: Kyana is a character with whom many readers will identify: she wants to do well, but gets distracted when she really needs to be putting in the work. Nae was a good foil for her, reminding her to spend ten minutes reviewing her math every day! It was fun to see a local, neighborhood magical school instead of the far flung magical boarding academies we usually see, and contrasting it with a posh local school points out the inequities of the US educational system. There are many, many details about magic, magical outfits, magical creatures, and magical food that will absolutely delight readers of series like Black and Clare's Magisterium. I appreciated the fact that there really wasn't a central, horrible magical villain that Kyana had to fight. That alone makes this fresher than many similar books!
Weaknesses: I often wonder why so many books about magic focus on the problems with it. Not only is the school in danger of closing, by Kyana has a lot of trouble mastering the spells, and there are a lot of rules and regulations. Younger readers may enjoy the wealth of details more than I did; subplots like the one involving Russ and the breeding and selling of Groits gave this book a lot of different facets to keep straight.
What I really think: This is another great choice for readers who liked Mbalia's Amari and the Night Brothers, Okogwu's Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, Dumas' Wildseed Witch and Clayton's The Marvellers.
22 reviews
February 12, 2023
We follow Kyana who finds out she's a witch after she turns 12. In order to master her magic she attends Park Row Academy on Saturdays. Hijinx ensue of the magical flavor. She eventually finds out her magic academy is going to be closed. She sets out to make the money to save the school by entering a baking contest. Only to have her magic go awry at the judging, putting all magic users in her community at risk.

Normally when an author wants to touch wands, robes, charms and wizards I have high expectations that it's not like Harry Potter. You might see some influences, (like mentioning European Wizards use cauldrons) but her use of these things is turns out to be unique.

This fantasy is grounded in community service, saving her underfunded magic school, and helping others. There's no big evil wizard, evil magic people, evil corporations or real antagonists. The enemy is issues in the every day world that affect magic users in her world. Who ultimately, despite having magic are suppressed.

This isn't quite a high adventure or an escape from reality. Kyana makes mistakes with her magic and sets out to fix them with help from other wizards to protect her community and protect magic.

Some cons for this reader: You meet Kyana and very quickly, you get the inciting incident within the first few pages. She already knows there's a secret to find out after her 12th birthday. It moved too fast for me with little buildup.

Kyana is terrible at math, and is tutored by her friend on Sundays. But has a magical talent for potions and baking. I'm horrible at math, and sometimes fractions and portions when cooking anything trip me up. Yet Kyana had no struggles at all.
I feel like her weakness could have been directly incorporated into her magical story and actually had a purpose. Otherwise, it's a cookie cutter message of practice and study and you can get over anything!

Kyana has bucket loads of attitude, but isn't compelling. She always does the right thing, she doesn't struggle with having magic and doing things for fun, for herself or helping people even if she shouldn't.
She takes it upon herself to save her magic school because.. she just has to for everyone else. There's no internal struggle, or running away from her responsibilities. I didn't feel any internal conflict from Kyana.

This was a charming read that manages to take the magic school story and do something different.

But there's no mystery to the end, there's no conflict even that she might not win. No one pushing her or standing in her way. No big baddie to take down. You know Kyana will win the contest and save her community. There was just something missing here for me, but I think it's a book worth reading. Strong message about the strength of community. Jump in and experience Kyana's world for yourself.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jared White.
847 reviews20 followers
November 7, 2022
Spoilers ahead, spoilers everywhere.

Yes, I am aware that I am not the target audience for this book (I'm a middle-aged white man) but I'm also a Children's Librarian who loves certain juvenile series/books so much that I've read some of them 4 times or more.

Firstly, I agree with some that, though this was a magic/fantasy book, it was not much of an adventure. Even when Kyana accidentally slipped in some magic into her cupcakes (supposedly a huge deal) it was fairly anti-climactic. Out-of-the-ordinary things were happening to multiple people while they were at the competition but then just kind of stopped? But Kyana and her friends were still desperate to get the antidote to everyone who had eaten the cupcakes.

Also, Kyana was a pretty crappy friend. If I were Nae I'd be really upset too.

I guess it's nice to know, the world over, magic schools are unfair (ie the house point system at Hogwarts, etc.) and at Park Row it's no different! Guess what?! You get assigned to general magic or specialized magic after just two or three Saturday afternoons of learning magic! And, even better, your community project helps determine whether you get a specialized spot. Never mind the fact that some of the kids grew up knowing about magic and had their whole lives to think of one and research for their possible project.

Relating to the above. I got even more frustrated when there was the big reveal that Kyana is actually from a long line of witches. I didn't feel the reasons given for her grandmother keeping if from her were very good ones.

Also, multiple times it says Kyana stays up really late and spends so much time reading her magic book but then when her grandmother or mom asks her to show them a charm she says she only kind of knows one?

Then Kyana thought it was a good idea to practice new charms IN THE CAR WHILE HER MOM WAS DRIVING. Given some of the earlier charms had gone, why in the world would she think that was a good idea and why would her mother and grandmother allow it?

Anyway, multiple plot points just didn't seem very well thought through. Two magic-related juvenile books by Black authors featuring African American characters that I enjoyed more are Amari and the Night Brothers and Maya and the Rising Dark
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emily.
401 reviews25 followers
September 30, 2022
Let’s start talking about my love for this book by talking about how great the MC, Kyana, was. Her narrative voice was so engaging, as was getting to learn about the magical world alongside her. I love that she had so much love for her friends, family and community, and that she was a talented baker. She just felt very real to read about. Her character development was done so well, in her gaining confidence in her abilities and also learning that it’s not possible to try to help everyone and everything all at once - at least, not without someone helping YOU. The side characters were also fantastic. All of them were fleshed out and many had their own character development too, especially Ash and Russ, but also Nae and Kyana’s Meemaw.

In terms of plot, it was perfectly paced. The events of the synopsis don’t actually occur until around 50% of the way through, but this actually worked really well as there was PLENTY to keep the reader occupied with leading up to this point. I had forgotten that this story was about a baking competition, which was such a pleasant surprise! I loved the descriptions of baking and all the treats Kyana made (I appreciated the recipes included at the back of the book!), and adding in a baking competition made this even better. The competition was worked really well into the story, and not quite in the way that I expected! That’s actually a great way to describe the plot generally: I never really knew what was coming next.

Of course, the magic was excellent. Elle clearly put lots of thought into the original and intriguing magic system and world, and I can’t wait to see more of both in the sequel. I loved the potion magic that was fore-fronted , especially how instinct tied into it, and how potions played into the plot.

The theme of community centred in the book was absolutely excellent. The story stresses the importance of looking out for your own, and having your own look after you. It shows how community is love, support, understanding, and home; it is utterly indispensable and worth fighting for.

Overall, I clearly loved this book and am eagerly anticipating the next instalment in the series.

As a side note, I listened to the audiobook for this one and while it was not my fave, it was by no means bad.
Profile Image for Mandy K.
464 reviews31 followers
November 17, 2022
This was so much fun. I really liked the magic and community and I look forward to exploring it more in the rest of the series.

I felt so bad for Kyana because it seems like everyone is adultifying her so much. I also had to step up as a kid and take on many adult responsibilities that kids that age ideally wouldn't have to do. So I know that's not always a choice, especially in single-parent homes that struggle to make ends meet, and double especially when there's a person in the house that needs special care. It stinks, but it is what it is. But what made me want to slap everyone was the way they all held such high expectations (improve in math, keep up with all the rest of school, do chores, make sure nothing bad happens with the grandma who is losing her memory, learn magic, enter a baking competition) for her, told her she couldn't tell anything to her BFF, and then also held her to adult standards of responsibility. Kyana often felt like everything rested on her shoulders and had to handle it alone, and it's no surprise she felt that way because that's how she was often treated. I just wanted to shield her and tell her she's just a kid and have her enjoy her childhood while she still could.

She steps up and does it all and is a real force, but she shouldn't have to. I was hoping to see a bit more of a "we shouldn't have put these expectations on a young girl like that," but instead it felt like that wasn't an issue that was meant to be addressed. I wish there was a way that the book could have shown the importance of standing up and supporting your community and your family without all of it putting so much pressure on one young barely-12-year-old girl.
Profile Image for Dead Sirius.
156 reviews
May 16, 2022
I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Touch of Magic focuses on a young girl named Kyana that on her birthday discovers a family secret: she is a witch. Soon Kyana has to balance regular school, hiding her new secret from her best friend Nae, going to magical school, and more. All while is she is discovering this new world of magic around her.

Pros: K. Elle creates nuanced characters with deep relationships to each other. The relationships created in the book feel real and contribute to the a greater sense of conflict when these relationships are strained. I think that the plot of balancing what feels like two separate worlds is something that will always be relatable to middle grade readers. Elle did a good job of showing the internal and external conflicts Kyana was having.

Cons: Overall, the parts of the book that didn't work for me were very minor. I felt like the world-building focused a lot on the products or types of spells available, but it could have built the organizational or lore of this world a little bit better. Like the mentions of this Board of Magick were there, but it didn't explain how it worked. Why are Magick and non-magicks communities kept separate. It's probably being saved for a sequel, so I didn't bother me too much, but just something I noticed.
Profile Image for Heidi.
202 reviews2 followers
June 18, 2022
Just before Kyana’s 12th birthday, sparks start shooting from her fingers, right in the middle of an otherwise regular day at school. Once at home, she learned she was a witch from a family where the gift sometimes skipped generations. Fortunately, the sparks stopped shooting out of her fingers, and better still, her local friend and hairdresser Mo ran a magic school in her back office for the newly-turned witches and wizards in the Harlemesque, Park Row neighborhood. However, the first class for this school happened to fall on her BFF-Naomi’s huge birthday party, and Kyana couldn’t tell her about having magic. This opening at first seemed a bit clichéd, so I anticipated Key letting the secret slip or somehow being found out only to continue with many shenanigans with the two. However, the cliché did stop there, and I was pleased to see that Key made a very valiant effort not only to hide her secret, but also to make a new friend, bring the new and old friend together, improve her math scores, save the magical school from closure, and more. In a day when obesity is such a struggle among the young and old alike, I was a bit disappointed with the baked-goods motif, but the broader attention to developing talents, building community, and putting a priority on family, all with a clever, young Black heroine made the book a delight.
Profile Image for Susan.
986 reviews27 followers
August 17, 2022
Advanced Reader’s Copy provided by NetGalley, Bloomsbury USA Children's Books, and Bloomsbury Children's Books in exchange for an honest review.

As someone that enjoys cooking and especially baking, I loved that J. Elle used that as a way to connect the main character, Kyana, to magic. It's a real-life intuitive skill that lends itself well to being connected to magical elements. I thought the overall concept of A TASTE OF MAGIC was good, but wish that there was not so much responsibility put on these tweens (while acknowledging that there are many children in America Kyana's age or younger that have had to take on adult responsibilities, or are growing up with a keen understanding of the financial inequalities in this country). It broke my heart that at her core, Kyana wanted to excel at magic just so her mom didn't have to work so hard all the time.

The characters are interesting, the writing style and dialogue is engaging, and this is a magic in the every day world type of setting which will definitely appeal to readers who are hesitant about reading straight up fantasy novels. I felt like the magic system could have been explained better, but am not sure this will impact readers of the targeted age demographic like it does me as an adult.

Overall, a pretty great start to a new middle grade series!
Profile Image for Stephanie.
511 reviews1 follower
August 17, 2022
Kyana knew her twelfth birthday would be special, but she never thought it would be this special! Now that she’s twelve, Kyana learns that she’s a witch and has amazing magical powers that she has to learn to control at the Park Row Magic Academy every Saturday. Yup, Saturday, the day of her best friend’s birthday party. But already, Kyana is dreaming of all the cool things she’ll be able to do to help her mother and grandmother out. It’s not always easy to make ends meet, but Kyana is determined to help out. If she can specialize in flashy Charms, she’ll be set! Too bad she’s much better at Potions. Also, the academy has been dealing with funding issues, and it’s not looking too good for the school. If the school shuts down, all the students will have to go across town and pay a hefty fee to be able to keep their magic! Kyana is determined to find a way to save the school, and all her neighborhood’s magic!

I received an advanced reading copy of A Taste of Magic in exchange for an honest review. To read my full review, visit my blog here: https://stephsstoryspace.wordpress.co...
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256 reviews1 follower
April 29, 2022
Thank you to #NetGalley, J. Elle, and the publisher of this book for the eARC copy in exchange for an honest review.
Kyana just celebrated her 12th birthday and found out some crazy news.....she's a witch! Being a witch in her town requires going to magic school each Saturday for six months. The only thing Kyana is not allowed to do? Share her information with her BFF, Nae. Soon, the secret starts causing a rift between friends and to make matters worse, the community magic school may have to close! What is Kyana going to do? What she know best...baking! Kyana decides to enter her town's baking competition in hopes that she can win the prize money and save her school. The only questions is, will she be able to do it?

What a great idea for a middle grade novel! I thought Kyana was a very relatable character and one young girls could relate to. She has her struggles, but she also has many talents that shine bright when she lets them! While my students are younger, I will definitely recommend this book to the kids I tutor at a local center.
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