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Marlow Brown, Magician in the Making (Kesta Fleming, illus by Marjory Gardner, Celapene Press)

Kesta Fleming has written stories and poems for junior readers for many years, making her publishing debut with the Marlow Brown chapter books in 2019. Magician in the Making, the second in the series, is a sweet, gentle and humorous story for readers aged seven to 10. After seeing a visiting magician perform, Marlow decides she too aspires to perform the magical arts. With her trusty canine sidekick Rockstar and her best friend Felix, she starts learning some tricks. The stakes fall entirely within a child’s worldview (potential embarrassment, fear of failure, trusting a friend, dreaming big) and the action takes place in familiar settings, encouraging reluctant readers to persevere. Marlow is a well-meaning but stubborn character who models practising new skills, doing research and dealing with mishaps. The language is suitable for early readers, with a few vocabulary-stretchers thrown in for good measure, and the text is punctuated occasionally by friendly black and white illustrations by Marjory Gardner. This would make a fun read-aloud or bedtime story—and Marlow even lets readers in on some magical secrets that they can practise at home. Recommend this book to fans of Polly & Buster or Lulu Bell who are ready to take the next step up in their reading.

Annie Waters sells books, writes about books and podcasts about books.


Category: Junior Reviews