By T. Kingfisher
Grade Levels: 5+
With the holidays coming up, a magical adventure all about baking seemed fitting. While this book has nothing to do with any actual holiday, it does have an army of gingerbread cookies, which is perfect for starting off the winter season.
Hugo and Nebula Award winning author, T. Kingfisher (also known as Ursula Vernon), spins a fantastical tale of adventure surrounding 14-year-old Mona, a magicker whose talent for spells only extends to manipulating bread. After discovering a dead body in her aunt’s bakery, Mona is thrust into a plot well beyond her years. All she wanted to do was make the perfect scone, but instead must deal with assassins, armies, and conniving politicians. She must stretch her creativity to the limit as she works with her thief-friend Spindle, her semi-sentient sour-dough starter named Bob, and a gingerbread cookie-turned-soldier to save the Duchess and the whole city from sure destruction.
Kingfisher artfully walks the line between humor and deeper topics, showing both the messy sides of Mona’s life amidst the joy she has in family and friendship. This is a good book for younger readers to encounter difficult themes of loss and struggle without being too heavy-handed. At its heart, this is a book about determination and duty, as a girl unprepared for the heavy responsibility of heroism learns to rise to the occasion. Mona is a realistic girl, beset with fears and worries, but she is also resilient and willing to do her duty to protect others.
Mona shows us that heroes can be as ordinary as bakers and that even a little magic is enough to make a difference.