A Taste of Magic by J.Elle

Illustration Credit: Brittany Jackson

Hi there! 

I’m J.Elle or Jess (I even answer to “hey you,” I’m not picky) and I’m excited to share my debut middle grade novel with you! A Taste of Magic is a super special story, and I can’t wait for kids to dive into this unforgettable magical adventure in your classrooms! It’s told in a voice that doesn’t talk down to kids, is snappy and fast-paced, and it leads with humor, which I firmly believe is the surest way to a kid's heart!

As a former fifth and sixth grade educator, my teacher hat often slips on without me even realizing it, ha ha! And so, while this book is a hilarious, heartwarming, adventurous read, I composed it in such a way to enthrall even the most reluctant reader. Growing up without much, my bus pass to the library was the highlight of my week. Literacy was a gateway in my life to upward mobility and opportunity, which is why creating readers is my entire passion. Books can literally change lives. And I can’t wait for A Taste Of Magic to bring so much joy to your students!

Thank you so much for your interest in Kyana’s story, and celebrating Brittany Jackson’s beautiful cover art with me. And in case it’s helpful, here are a few of my favorite tidbits that make A Taste Of Magic such special story!

• It’s hilarious. And after the last couple years it feels like we’re all eager to find something that warms us up inside like buttery chocolate cookies. I wanted A Taste of Magic to be a book that makes you grin without even realizing it. It’s full of heart and laugh out loud funny. Think delightfully cute, like A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. Peek at the first page and meet Kyana. You’ll see what I mean.   

• It’s accessible. I wrote A Taste of Magic to straddle the line of contemporary and fantasy because, as an inner-city kid, I’d never seen myself in a fantasy novel. I wrote this book, full of worldbuilding and magic, to transport my fantasy loving readers, but steeped in the beautiful richness of an inner-city community. Because there’s something deeply powerful--I’m talking life-changing powerful--about fantasy’s ability to inspire kids to imagine the seemingly impossible. It has the well-grounded fantasy quality of Amari and The Night Brothers by B.B. Alston. 

• It’s an Inner-City Magic School! The first ever! Where cauldrons are regular ‘ole giant pots, stoves spit out pizzas on demand, where a ferret with a security badge is much more intimidating than it sounds, where magical spirits tethered to furniture is a sure source of calamity, and where ball caps and wigs transform into wizard robes in all styles and colors. Think wildly original like Ghostsquad and School For Good and Evil.

• It’s empowering. I’m excited for kids to see that there’s magic right in their own community. From the local grocery store to the beauty supply shop, there are so many nostalgic gems in A Taste of Magic that will feel immediately familiar to young readers. I mean imagine there was a whole room of magic supplies in your local mini mart! In fact, that’s exactly what Kyana does in the early pages of this story--she begins to realize there’s magic everywhere around her. That Park Row, and by extension--she--is special. As a mother of three young children, I really believe that’s a message kids can’t hear enough. It has the self-affirming, thought-provoking vibe of a Jason Reynolds or Renee Watson novel.

• It’s diverse. “Inner-city” and “Black community” are so often interchangeably used, but communities like Park Row are a vibrant mix of socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. From Kyana’s math teacher who proudly sports her hijab, to Ashley, her partner in magical shenanigans who is half-Dominican, and so many others, A Taste of Magic centers a tapestry of voices.

Those are just a few reasons I’m so excited for young readers to discover A Taste of Magic! I appreciate you so much for sharing Park Row’s magic with your students. I do hope I get to meet you, and them, someday!



Thank you, J.Elle! Congratulations! -John Schu


J.Elle is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult and middle-grade fantasy fiction, and a NAACP Image Award nominee. She is best known for her debut duology, Wings of Ebony. Her work has been translated into languages across three continents. The former educator and first-generation college student credits her nomadic lifestyle and humble inner-city beginnings as inspiration for her novels. When she's not writing, Elle can be found mentoring aspiring authors, binging reality TV, loving on her three littles, or cooking up something true to her Southern roots. More at www.authorjelle.com

Look for A Taste of Magic on August 30, 2022.


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