FICTION

Zacktastic

illus. by Jeff Crosby. 208p. Sleeping Bear. 2015. Tr $11.99. ISBN 9781585369348; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781585369355.
COPY ISBN
Gr 3–5—Meet Zack Cooley, aka Zacktastic, a 10-year-old who's almost too busy making sure that all the doors of his house are securely locked and battling with his twin sister, Quinn, to notice that he has very few friends. But everything changes when Zack's Uncle Max breaks some pretty important news: Zack is a genie. Before he can say "Poof!" Zack is whisked away on his first genie mission—something for which he is not even remotely prepared. Written in a conversational and readable tone, Zacktastic will hold some appeal for younger middle grade readers. Many will find Zack likable; he seems like a real kid who has flaws and fears and actually enjoys the smell of his own stinky feet. Annoying and popular twin sister Quinn is also a believable character whom many readers may recognize in their own lives. However, Zack's penchant for safety has a weighty backstory that doesn't get the explanation it deserves, and his habit of combining words to create his own language ("Crazmazing. Adjective. When something is crazy and amazing at the same time.") doesn't add much to his character and feels like a heavy-handed afterthought. While Sheinmel's overall concept mostly succeeds, the narrative is weighed down by distracting details and readers may find themselves wondering why Zack's toe itches when he is about to grant a wish or why all genies have incredibly neat hairdos.
VERDICT Geared toward children who are interested in the "Harry Potter" books but looking for a more innocuous plotline, this unfortunately does not create any new magic.

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