Leila, the Perfect Witch

by Flavia Z Drago (Author) Flavia Z Drago (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

In this charming picture book from the author-illustrator of Gustavo, The Shy Ghost, a witch who is spellbindingly good at everything discovers that baking is no piece of cake.

Leila Wayward is a little witch who excels at everything she does. She's the fastest flier, the most cunning conjuror, and the most superb shape-shifter. She has won trophies for potions, herbology, and alchemy--and now she dreams of winning the Magnificent Witchy Cake-off! As the youngest in a long line of masters of the Dark Arts of Patisserie, Leila wants her entry to be perfect. But even with the most bewitching of recipes, she realizes a terrible truth: she's a disaster in the kitchen. Luckily, Leila has three magical sisters who are happy to share their culinary secrets with her. What's more, Leila discovers that baking with them is fun! Win or lose, she has already tasted the sweetest thing of all: acceptance--with a pinch of nightshade and a bit of mandrake.

Filled with expressive and fancifully offbeat illustrations, Flavia Z. Drago's enchanting story of trying your hardest despite your imperfections is sure to delight little witches and novice bakers alike.

Kirkus Reviews

Loaded with visual humor and quirky details, this whimsical tale charms and delights. Leila, her frog friends, and her family are comically illustrated with quarter-moon eyes and expressive faces. . . A picture book about the gifts of imperfection that casts a sweet and satisfying spell.


An upbeat story of persistence and taking pleasure in doing your best.

School Library Journal

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.—Patricia Lothrop

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Flavia Z Drago
Flavia Z. Drago was born and raised in Mexico City. As a child, she wanted to be a mermaid. When that didn't happen, she began her career as a graphic designer and a children's book illustrator. She loves color, textures, and shapes and enjoys creating them with different materials and a bit of digital sorcery. She lives in Mexico.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Candlewick Press (MA)
Publication date
July 20, 2022

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