Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Bayou MagicThis book was a finalist for the 2015 Cybils Book Award in middle grade speculative fiction. It's Maddy's turn to spend the summer with her grandmother in the Louisiana bayou, and her sisters' stories make her nervous about staying with Grandmere. They say she's a witch, but they don't understand her magic. Maddy becomes best friends with a boy named Bear whose father works on an oil rig in the gulf. She learns to summon the fireflies and searches for Mami Wata, a mermaid guardian of the water. Maddy has inherited her ancestors' magic and loves the beauty and majesty of the bayou. However, she starts to see signs that something is seriously wrong. She sees visions of shadows and fire but doesn't understand the meanings. Maddy's fears come true, and the survival of the bayou depends on her.

This book will appeal to nature lovers. The author takes Maddy through the swamps and glades to help readers appreciate the plants and creatures living there. The conflict in the plot deals with nature versus man/technology and provides a lesson about ecology. There are subplots involving friendship, family, and abuse. The author's writing style is very spiritual and emotional, so the descriptions were beautiful and moving. The downside for me was that the plot moved a bit too slowly. While Maddy's adventures in nature were interesting, the actual conflict wasn't clear until I'd read over half the book. I knew Maddy would learn the magic, but I couldn't foresee what she would do with it. I wasn't sure where the plot was headed. However, the book was well-written and full of emotions.

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