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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Power of Poppy Pendle, written by Natasha Lowe. A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster. 2012. $18.99 ages 9 and up

"Poppy couldn't believe how perfect her life had become. Charlie spent Friday, after school, and most of her weekend at the bakery, slipping home for meals. Usually when she arrived at Marie Claire's, she would find Poppy busy in the kitchen, cooking. In fact, Poppy hardly ever left the kitchen, because she was so scared of being seen."

In her debut novel, Natasha Lowe shares her love of food and people who like to follow their passion in life. So, if you are looking to buy a book for Christmas, and you have an 8 to 12 year who loves baking and independence, this would be a good choice.

Poppy is 10, born on a Thursday afternoon in the local bakery, and the great-granddaughter of a witch. Poppy has magic but wants no part of it. All she wants to do is bake. Her parents, on the other hand, will not hear of her pursuing her life's calling. They want to call the shots for their daughter and they want her to use her magical powers and learn a witch's trade. They enrol her at Ruthersfield Academy, a school where she is sure to learn the finer points of witchcraft.

Polly is a  quick study, and possesses magical powers beyond most of the girls in attendance. She has not friends there. She hates every minute of  it. She begs her parents to let her go to the local school, telling them how she feels and that all she wants to do in life is to run her own bakery. They will hear nothing of her wishes, and insist that she remain at Ruthersfield, following in the family footsteps.

When she finally meets a new friend, she wants more than ever to attend the local school and spend her time with Charlie. Her parents are insistent that this new girl have no part in Polly's life and that she stay in a school she detests. Polly's only recourse is to run away. She runs straight to Marie Claire's bakery,  not knowing that it is her birthplace. Marie Claire allows her to stay for a few days, then insists on telling her parents where she is.

Once again, she is trapped at home, without Charlie's friendship, and in a school she hates. Poppy is angry enough that she uses a new spell and manages to turn her parents to stone before leaving once more. The rest of the story sees Poppy turning to the 'dark side' in anger. Only love and genuine friendship help her find her way back to the loving girl she once was. Charlie and Marie Claire work a magic of their own to make this happen.

And if, during the reading, your mouth waters at all the talk concerning Poppy's baking prowess, the author (who must be an avid maker of sweet and delicious goodies herself) includes a dozen mouth-watering recipes for you to try. Bon appetit!

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