The Magic Mirror: A Branches Book

Scholastic. (Once Upon a Fairy Tale: Bk. 1). Sept. 2019. 96p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781338349733.
Gr 1-3–Two best friends solve fairy-tale mysteries in this series debut. Kara and her best friend Zed are residents of the Enchanted Kingdom, which has been suffering through an unseasonable heat wave. A sleepover becomes an adventure when Zed, a royal messenger, learns that ice princess Aspen is unable to bring winter to the land because of a shattered magic mirror. Kara and Zed immediately journey to the Ice Palace, only to discover a melting castle and warring sisters divided by their differences and misunderstandings. It is up to Kara to figure out who broke the magic mirror and how to fix it to bring back the snow. Staniszewski creates a tense mystery akin to the “Encyclopedia Brown” series. The characters are adequately developed, but the standout is pet monkey Clyde, who is dragged back and forth between the battling sisters’ palaces. Pamintuan’s illustrations have an animated style that is engaging without overwhelming the text.
VERDICT A series debut that may not break new ground but will engage readers with its fantastical mystery and honest depictions of relationships with family and friends

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