Be a Genie in Six Easy Steps
Linda Chapman and Steve Cole
HarperCollins (2009)
ISBN 9780061252198
Reviewed by Galia Popov (age 11) for Reader Views (7/09)

 

“Be a Genie in Six Easy Steps” is a fast-paced read. It centers on stepsiblings Jess, Jason, Michael, and Milly. When they move to Moreways Meet, Milly and Jason discover the Genie Handbook. The kids meet a bookworm named Skribble—short for Skribbaleum El Lazeez Ekir—who convinces them to start their genie training. As the training progresses, strange things start happening. Milly and Jess see a weird couple in a junk shop. Later, they see the couple again—and yet again. Upon being confronted, they find that the strangers are really genies named Sabik and Vega, who are looking for the Genie Handbook. In exchange for the book, they grant the children a wish. When the kids can’t decide what to wish for, the genies leave them an extremely valuable book from the early eighteenth century, which could be sold for a large sum of money.

“Be a Genie in Six Easy Steps” didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I was hoping for a book that describes what it is like to be a genie, rather than a story about four kids. The book is supposed to be an action/adventure story, but it seems like the authors tried too hard to make it dramatic all the way through. After the first few chapters of constant excitement, the book gets pretty boring. Against the tiresome action/adventure scenes, the still parts have more appeal. Unfortunately, there are not many of these.

A high point of the story is the scene where Jason makes a wish go wrong for the snooty leader of the Foxtrot Four trivia team. Mr. Foxtrot wants to answer every question at the Trivia Team Challenge. He does, but out of turn and incorrectly. This was the funniest part of the book.

“Be a Genie in Six Easy Steps” would be best for 7-10 year olds [publisher information says 8-12] since it is a relatively easy read. The idea behind the book is appealing, but readers shouldn’t expect a lot of detail about the magic.  Also, the only surprise is that the book is supposed to be about something totally different than you think – which makes for a rather unsatisfying ending.

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