A Taste of Magic

by J Elle (Author)

A Taste of Magic
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

New York Times bestselling author J. Elle makes her middle grade debut in this magical new series about a Black girl who learns she's a witch and must save her inner-city magic school from closing, perfect for fans of Wendy Mass.

Kyana Turner has just found out the family secret--she's a witch! This means mandatory lessons every Saturday at Park Row Magick Academy, the magic school hidden in the back of her local beauty shop. Learning spells, discovering charms and potion recipes, and getting a wand made to match her hair's curl pattern, Kyana feels like she's a part of something really special. The hardest part will be keeping her magic a secret from non-Magick folks, including her BFF, Nae. But when the school loses funding, the students must either pay a hefty tuition at the academy across town or have their magic stripped . . . permanently. Determined not to let that happen, Kyana comes up with a plan to win a huge cash prize in a baking competition. After all, she's learned how to make the best desserts from her memaw. But as Kyana struggles to keep up with magic and regular school, prepare for the competition, and keep her magic secret, she wonders if it's possible to save her friendships, too. And what will she do when, in the first round of competition, a forbidden dollop of magic whisks into her cupcakes?

J. Elle's debut middle grade fantasy is full of humor, heart, and mouthwatering desserts.

Kirkus Reviews

A charming story of magic, love, and community.


Positive female relationships and fantastical humor (particularly around animals) round out this warm food- and family-centered story. A charming middle-grade series starter, with several of Memaw’s legendary recipes included.

Publishers Weekly

A Black sixth grader with a lot on her plate goes up against professional cooks in this whimsical culinary fantasy. Finally old enough to be in on the family secret, Kyana Turner learns around her 12th birthday that she's a witch. She's excited to train her blossoming magic--white sparks that "fizz from my fingertips"--during her mandatory training at Park Row Magick Academy, a free Saturday school run out of the back of a Black-owned beauty salon. But magic must be kept a secret, and the necessary lies Kyana tells to keep hers under wraps begin to take a toll, as do her dropping math grades and looking after her increasingly forgetful grandmother, Memaw, while Momma works. When the magic school faces threat of shutdown, the students' families must either find a way to swing tuition at another academy or be sanitized of their magic. Desperate to save her school, Kyana enters a baking competition with a $50,000 grand prize--where using her powers backfires, threatening the powers of Park Row's magical residents. Successfully illustrating themes of class separation and economic opportunity across a mostly Black cast, Elle (Wings of Ebony) builds a story of familial love and friendship and tops it with pure culinary enthusiasm. Ages 8-11. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Aug.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Delightful and charming, A Taste of Magic bursts with adventure, mischief, and so much heart. Readers will turn ravenous for all things magic and their opportunity to enroll in Park Row Magick Academy." —Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author

"A Taste of Magic is an enchanting adventure that will leave readers hungry for more." —Kwame Mbalia, #1 NYT bestselling author

J Elle

J. Elle is the New York Times bestselling author of the YA novels Wings of Ebony and Ashes of Gold and is an advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her community. Born in Houston, Texas, J. is a first-generation college student with a Bachelor of Journalism and Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Human Development. Her passion for empowering youth dates back before writing to her first career in education. She's worked as a Preschool Director, Middle School Teacher, and High School Creative Writing Mentor. In her spare time you'll find her volunteering at an alternative school, providing feedback for aspiring writers, loving on her three littles, or cooking up some dish true to her Texas and Louisiana roots.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date
August 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV013030 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Multigenerational
JUV037000 - Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
JUV011010 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JUV050000 - Juvenile Fiction | Cooking & Food
Library of Congress categories

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