Review: Just Add Magic

Amy Hill, Dee Wallace, Ellen Karsten, Aubrey K. Miller, Olivia Sanabia, and Abby Donnelly in Just Add Magic

Just Add Magic is an Amazon Kids series featuring three tweens with a magic cookbook. It’s about empowered girls who act with their own agency to solve a serious problem – a grandmother under a spell.  This is a review of season 1 only and contains minor spoilers.

Kelly (Olivia Sanabia) is worried about her grandmother Becky (Dee Wallace) who suddenly became nonverbal and distant. Kelly’s girlfriends Darbie (Abby Donnelly) and Hannah (Aubrey K. Miller) are with her when she discovers an old cookbook in the attic. It has strangely named recipes with unheard of ingredients.

Since they all love to cook and have free rein in the kitchen without interference from Kelly’s mom (Catia Ojeda) and dad (Andrew Burlinson), they try a recipe. The first one they try is called Shut Up Shortcake. It makes Kelly’s pesky little brother (Aiden Lovekamp) shut up, but the price is nonstop blather from Darbie. Every bit of magic in the cookbook comes at a price, they discover.

They also discover that the only place in town to get the strange ingredients is a small cafe called Mama P’s, owned by Mama P (Amy Hill). As time goes by, they learn that Mama P knows a thing or two about magic herself. In fact, she’s determined to get the magic cookbook back in her possession.

Kelly’s grandma snaps out of it occasionally, when no one is around to see it but Kelly. She warns Kelly to be careful of magic and trust her instincts. Then, bam, back to nonverbal.

The scary Ms. Silver (Ellen Karsten) has a huge garden full of strange things like night blooming fennel, teaches piano lessons, and might have put a curse on half the town.

So we have three girls who are new to magic and three older women who know about it but want to keep it hidden. That’s a lot of girl power in the main characters!

I mustn’t forget Jake (Judah Bellamy), who works at Mama P’s, has an entrepreneur’s spirit, and who is friends with the girls.

Each episode features a new attempt to find a solution to grandma’s curse by trying out of a new recipe. The girls also have to solve whatever set of problems arise from the price of doing magic.

Although I’m many decades beyond the tween and teen demographic this series is meant for, I enjoyed it very much. I liked the strength and intelligence of the girls. I liked the clean family-friendly open heartedness of all the characters. I liked the three elders who interacted with the girls – even when the girls thought they were scary.

There have been two seasons of Just Add Magic so far. I’m not sure about a third, but it would be welcome. This is a wonderful series for kids – both boys and girls – and their parents (or grandparents) to enjoy.

Watch the trailer for Just Add Magic

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