The Baker and the Bard: A Cozy Fantasy Adventure

Feiwel & Friends. Mar. 2024. 160p. Tr $25.99. ISBN 9781250828507; pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781250828514.
Gr 7 Up–Juniper and Hadley live in the charming fantasy world of Larkspur where they work at Mira’s Bakery. When a wealthy stranger comes into the shop and requests an unusual pastry, Mira assures her they will fulfill the order, even though they know they lack the proper ingredients. Juniper and Hadley convince their boss to let them go to the forest in search of the necessary glowing oyster mushrooms. On their adventure, they learn that the farmers in the city of Gryfice have lost crops due to a mysterious creature emerging from the trees each night. The friends are eager to investigate, and while searching for the culprit, they run into the mystical fey. Thistle, the leader, admits that their giant caterpillar friends need silvergrass to survive. Juniper, Hadley, and the feys must work together to help solve their problems and restore order to the town. This fairy tale–like story is charming and serene. The beautiful drawings depict a magical world whose inhabitants are friendly and open with simple needs and desires. The themes of acceptance and togetherness prevail as the author successfully weaves these threads subtly through the narrative. The conversation about gender and Hadley’s admission that they are nonbinary is a bit forced, without a natural transition into the dialogue. Still, it’s an important part of the characters’ relationships and creates an inclusive literary environment.
VERDICT A whimsical, sweet fantasy that is sure to delight teens looking for a magical, cozy world and nonbinary representation.

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