The 12th Candle

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Oct. 2019. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062654977.
Gr 4-6–Twenty-five years ago, pink lightning, a phenomenon occurring when lightning strikes during a snow and thunderstorm, struck and destroyed the friendship between Sage and Priscilla’s mothers. Thus started the “Contrarium Curse” which now continues between their daughters. Then, on Sage’s 12th birthday, she’s given a magic wish-granting candle, which she hopes will get her dad out of prison, her mom out of desperate financial straits, and Sage out from under the thumb of bully Priscilla. It doesn’t take long to find out that the wish she hoped would solve all her problems changes things—into a new configuration that might just be worse than the old one. Too bad the rules forbid “unwishing.” This is a sweet story that offers commentary on bullying and stresses the importance of thinking before acting and being a good friend. Sage takes ownership of her own poor choices and learns that kindness can be a “curse-reverse.”
VERDICT Although there are no surprises and only a token nod to diversity here, upper elementary school readers seeking a happy ending won’t be disappointed. Purchase where Wendy Mass’s “Willow Falls” series is popular.

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