Renee 's Reviews > A Summer Spell

A Summer Spell by Sue Bentley
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's review
Feb 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: kids-books

This review consists of two parts: 1. my review (Mom's), and 2. my daughter's review of this book.

DAUGHTER SAYS: Once upon a time there was a kitten..."meow"; except it wasn't really a kitten, it was a magic lion named Prince Flame. There was an evil lion named Ebony who was his uncle who wanted to kill him because he wanted to be the ruler of the kingdom. So, Flame goes into the human world to hide from his uncle and he meets a girl named Lisa. Lisa is spending the summer at her Aunt Rose's house while her parents are away. She thinks that it's going to be a horrible summer until she finds Flame. When she meets Flame, Flame thinks she's a monster and Lisa is scared because Flame talks, but then they figure out that they are both nice. Lisa and Flame meet John and they start hanging out together andthey solve mystery of the poachers. Flame has to go back to his own world at the end of the book.

What I liked and disliked about it: I really like the pictures of the kittens on the front cover of the book and I like the story. I liked it when Lisa and Flame first meet because they have no idea what each other are and are scared of each other. I wish I had a magic kitten so that I could talk to it secretly and I could hide it in my desk at school so that it could tell me the answers to the math problems. At first John was mean but he turned out to be nice. It was cool how John's Grandma knew that Flame was magic so Lisa could share her special secret with someone. It was a bad idea for Lisa to sneak out of her aunt's house at night to go take pictures of the poachers. She could have been caught and kidnapped or shot by the poachers. But maybe it was a little bit safer because she had a magic kitten to protect her. I didn't like that the kitten was really a lion because I wanted it to stay a cute little kitten.

My bottom line: I like the Magic Kitten stories a lot. I have read many other ones and they are just as good as this one. I like that there is a different colored kitten in each book and they are all super cute. I would recommend this book to my friends who are girls. Boys probably wouldn't like them because the main characters are always girls.


Magic Kitten, A Summer Spell is the first book in the Magic Kitten series written by British author Sue Bentley. The Magic Kitten series are distinguisable by their book covers featuring a different and completely adorable kitten on each, all with emerald green eyes. The premise of the series is that Prince Flame, a young white lion and rightful heir to the Lion Throne in another world, is on the run from his evil Uncle Ebony who killed his parents and claimed the throne for himself. Ebony is chasing Flame trying to kill him in order to stay on as the ruler of the kingdom. Flame cannot match the strength of his uncle, therefore he escapes into the human world disguised as an adorable kitten. In each of the books, Flame meets a different young girl who is in the midst of some crisis. For example, in the first book, A Summer Spell, Flame meets Lisa who unwillingly has to spend the summer with her aunt when her parents go to America without her. In each of the books, the kitten and the girl help each other through their troubles and in the end, they part ways with the understanding that their connection was only meant to be at that moment in time.

What I liked and disliked about it: Both my kids love the Magic Kitten books to the extent that when we got two kittens, my son decided to name him Flame (even though he's completely black). Not surprisingly, when people come to our house, meet our cat, and ask his name, we usually get a puzzled look when we say "Flame". Apparently most people expect that the name Flame is most appropriate for an orange cat. But, really Flame was named after the adorable kitten in the Magic Kitten series. Oh, and by the way, in one of the books, he is a black cat!

I agree with my daughter that the book covers are absolutely adorable. I'm a real sucker for a cute kitten. Sue Bentley provides the key ingredients to a story that is a sure winner with the demographic it intends to target, namely middle grade girls. You can't go wrong combining a young girl suffering from a sense of injustice caused by her parents, a cute kitten who talks and performs magic, and a mystery in which our young girl rises to become a hero. All the Magic Kitten books follow this formula: it works! In fact, I would say that one thing Bentley does really well is to create intrigue - chapters usually end with relatively dramatic cliffhangers.

I didn't much care for Lisa, the young girl in this particular book. When we first meet Lisa, she is shockingly rude to her aunt. Upon their first meeting Lisa tells her aunt the following:

I didn't want to come here. Mum forced me to stay with you.

Her aunt Rose is unbelievably kind and patient:

Well - I'd better make sure you enjoy yourself then. Long Brackby may not compare with America but it has a lot to offer.

Aunt Rose totally rocks in this book - - she is just a really cool aunt! She completely understands that her niece is upset with the situation (her parents going off to America without her) and reacts to her with such compassion that I am left quite impressed. I'm not sure that Lisa ever completely redeems herself in the story. She still disobeys her aunt throughout the story putting herself in grave danger.

Which brings me to two issues I have with this book:

1. I have a problem with, what I feel, is a loose plot. We see Lisa beginning to treat her aunt with more respect and to start acting more responsibly once Flame enters her life. I was a bit surprised when Lisa decided to disobey her aunt and sneak off after dark to explore the mystery of the poachers in the surrounding woods. I felt like this was not a logical place for the plot to go given Lisa's changes in attitude THAT VERY DAY and given the promises she made her very generous aunt. It seemed that the plot took on an illogical direction out of convenience so that the rest of the story could make sense.

2. Call me crazy (well, not to my face), but what 10 year old girl would go in the woods after dark with the idea to take photographs of poachers (i.e., MEN WITH GUNS)? I'm a little alarmed that this was treated as not such a big deal. After all, Flame the magic kitten and the equally irresponsible neighbor boy John were there to protect her. Right. Couldn't the mystery have been who is stealing the Angorra rabbits her aunt is breeding? Or who is putting sugar in everybody's gas tanks? Or anything not involving firearms? It felt a little heavy for a Magic Kitten book. The rest of the books (as far as I can remember) don't involve the same level of danger (I think). Then again, every Magic Kitten book starts with a Prologue detailing how Uncle Ebony wants to kill his nephew Flame ... hmmmm ...

My bottom line: Well, I can't NOT recommend a book based on a kitten after which my kids named their kitten, can I? The kids really enjoyed this book as well as the other books in the Magic Kitten series. All the books include a young girl as the main character, but my son enjoys the books regardless. This is a very easy read - - I read the book in less than 30 minutes - - therefore it is not much of a challenge for 8+ years old. Nonetheless, the stories are intriguing and they are quite heartwarming. I can fully appreciate and understand the appeal of having a secret loyal and magical friend (especially in the form of a cutie pie little kitten) at a time when you are experiencing turmoil in your life. It is quite simply...magical!

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