Baker’s Magic by Diane Zahler comes with an unexpected mix of piracy, baking, magic, and an evil usurper. Orphaned, Bee takes to the road in search of a better life. When she finally reaches Zeewal, the capitol city, she is alone, penniless, and hungry. Desperate, she steals a bun from a nearby baker’s shop—and is caught. To her surprise, rather than locking her up, the baker offers her a job. Bee finds that not only can she bake, she can bake emotions and intentions into her food. As she goes about her work, she finds herself becoming friends with a blacksmith’s apprentice and, to her surprise, the princess. Watching and asking questions, she learns that Zeewal is in danger from the palace mage who wants to take over the kingdom for himself. A twelve-year-old baker with some small magic, a princess without any power, and a blacksmith’s apprentice don’t seem to have much chance of doing anything.
Of course, they do set out to see what they can do and with a little magic, a lot of friendship, some pirates, and one or two coincidences the quest is underway. Bee and the princess find help along the way, but the major decisions and the courage to continue rests with them. Bee’s magic maintains its limits throughout. She has to think about it and to use it creatively, which means the story keeps developing new and interesting twists.
There is no outright violence in the book; the threats and counter-measures are more subtly made and dealt with. This, too, keeps everyone on their toes.
Baker’s Magic is a perfect read for middle grade readers who enjoy a good quest, some friendship, and an absence of gore or outright violence, and a discussion of friendship and family.
Baker’s Magicby Diane Zahler is available now.