Leila, the Perfect Witch

Candlewick. Jul. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536220506.
PreS-Gr 1–Hardly more than a bit player in Gustavo the Shy Ghost, here Leila stars. Feeling that her many trophies are not enough, she aims to ace baking for the “most important” prize, even at the cost of family fun. But when disaster dogs her practice, her sisters come through, coach her, and advocate trying again. Their support sends her confidently to the competition—and when she loses, Leila gracefully concludes that having fun makes her feel like a winner. With her magenta hair, greenish skin, and buck teeth, Leila might not be quite as cute as Gustavo (who can be spotted in the bake-off audience), but the pale blue-and-violet-toned illustrations are just as detail-filled and amusing (as in Gustavo, there are depictions of pentagrams, skulls, a “devilish” goat, etc.). A few words (“alchemy,” conjurer,” “coven,” “patisserie”) will challenge readers, but the pro-family, anti-perfectionist message is upbeat and engaging.
VERDICT Another Drago book destined for wide circulation, not only at Halloween.

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