Written by Lee Edward Födi
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
Middle-grade fantasy for ages 9 & up
Available in hard cover, ebook, and audio formats
There's nothing magical about wizard school
. . . at least, not for Cara Moone.
Most wizard kids spend their days practicing spells and wielding wands, but Cara? She’s on the fast track to becoming a MOP (a.k.a. Magical Occurrence Purger). You see, when a real wizard casts a spell, it leaves behind a residue called spell dust—which, if not disposed of properly, can cause absolute chaos in the nonmagical world. It’s a MOP’s job to clean up the mess.
And no one makes more of a mess than Harlee Wu. Believed to be the Chosen One, destined to save the magical world, Harlee makes magic look easy. Which makes her Cara’s sworn nemesis. Or she would be, if she even knew Cara existed.
Then one of Harlee’s spells leaves something downright dangerous behind it: a rift in the fabric of magic itself. And when more rifts start to appear around the school, all in places Harlee has recently used magic, Cara is pretty sure the so-called “Chosen One” isn’t going to save the world. She’s going to destroy it.
It will take more than magic to clean up a mess this big. Fortunately, messes are kind of Cara’s thing.
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
35 middle-grade books to watch for, Fall 2021 – CBC Books
Wizard school is enchanting—unless you’re the janitor. Surprising revelations and plenty of humor keep the story fresh, and the good-vs.-evil plotline is nicely nuanced. A family tragedy and a sisterly rift bring some serious notes to the narrative, while scenes involving a dark magic cult lend sinister vibes...A spirited and magical underdog story. FULL REVIEW.
In a quirky riff on magic school tropes, Fodi (The Secret of Zoone) enlivens familiar elements through a resourceful, humorous narrator. Snarky and resilient, Cara is a memorable heroine with an engaging narrative voice and a unique perspective. FULL REVIEW.
School Library Journal
A fun story that offers a behind-the-scene view into wizarding school and the magic that happens. The story is full of wonderful characters and fantasy elements; for example, Cara's best friend is a magical fox with multiple tails, and nonmagical people are called Blisses . . . VERDICT: This is an energetic and exciting story for any reader who loves Harry Potter and enjoys the idea of attending wizarding school.
In situating Cara as the narrator of her own story, Lee Edward Födi treats readers to a frank and humorous yarn peppered with various invented words and phrases that will make readers smile. Födi makes a point of populating his book with a multicultural cast, including one magical many-tailed Japanese fox. While readers bump along on a fast-paced ride, they are also exposed to Cara's vulernabilities and the internal struggle that arises from her own definitions of failure and success. Through it all, Födi plays with the theme of contradictions and their coexistance, how a person may straddle two seemingly conflicting realities at once. Young readers will both be entertained and enlightened!
Födi has created a charming story built on the deep literary tradition of the chosen one in fantasy literature. The strength of his prose comes from his choosing to tell his story through the character who is not supposed to be the hero, although she fights to become the hero in her own story. Cara is sarcastic and, like many students who don’t think they measure up, may be characterized by those in authority as having a bad attitude and a casual disregard for the rules her school places on her. She is a flawed character who is often blinded by her skewed perception of her world, which makes her a very relatable heroine.
Readers will giggle and cheer as they follow the antics of the spirited underdog. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. FULL REVIEW.
Shelf Awareness Spell Sweeper is a genre-loyal magic school tale full of mischievous antics told from the point of view of a gutsy girl wizard who never lacks a comeback. Young readers acquainted with Harry Potter will recognize several references to the series, such as how the kids eat dinner at the Cranky Cauldron and enjoy drinking ginger beer. Daring leap-before-you-look moments, hilarious mishaps ("The broom ends up standing on its head, my pink unicorn underwear dangling from it like a flag") and tense family drama add excitement, levity and depth. Interspersed between chapters are quirky guides on the "wizarding world" and tender reflections on Cara's most private memories. Together, Cara and her wizard companions show that people are not always who they seem on the outside and, if given the chance, they can truly shine. (Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer)
Bit About Books
One of the things I most love about the author’s writing is his world-building. I can almost picture Dragonsong Academy and its grounds, Seattle’s secret neighbourhood, the ship where…There’s a cast of unique supporting characters, such as Zuki, a three-tailed magic fox familiar belonging to Cara’s instructor, Master Quibble, and a rapidly growing creature named Nova. There is so much humour in the story, including the chapter headings, but I also really like that alliances are tested, and Cara is never really sure who she can trust. She also develops confidence in herself and her ability to use her limited magic in her own way.
I would definitely recommend this story for fantasy lovers in Gr. 5-7, especially those who have enjoyed the author’s earlier books.
Storytime with Stephanie
I loved the whole premise of the story, that magic leaves behind residue that needs to be cleaned up and when misguided people do bad things, there are repercussions. The world building was fantastic ... I also love how the reader gets a whole bunch of background on Cara and her family as well as the workings of Dragonsong through the one to three page asides slipped in throughout the story where Cara gives us her first person perspective. I love her voice, a little bit snarky and very headstrong. She’s a strong protagonist who is well aware of the lengths she will go to with interesting consequences. FULL REVIEW.
Belle's Middle Grade Library
What a genius idea to have the witch/wizarding world to actually use a broom to SWEEP, and find the whole idea of RIDING one absurd! Then, this was a different take on the usual “chosen one” approach. The whole time I thought there would be a twist and one thing would be revealed—but nope! But that’s the TYPICAL thing that would usually happen. So I was very impressed the author took his own path, and appreciated that.
It’s so hard to say everything amazing about this book, because there are so many. From the magic system itself. To the school and the wizards and that whole backstory. To what a sweeper means and everything that goes along with that. The Bliss humans and what that means. Cara, & her family—including a sister who used to be her biggest protector, but has turned into a mean stranger. Then you have wizard whistles, talismans, the occuli, and magical creatures. So many great messages as well.
This book would be perfect for any kid who ever read the typical chosen one stories, but couldn’t ever see themselves as those characters . . . there’s also chapters between the main actual chapters, that Cara kind of talks to you, gives info. Whether it’s facts about school, sweeping, her sister, or even memories she shares. HIGHLY recommend!
The Story Sactuary
This book packs a lot of snark, but it brings an awful lot of fun, too, so I felt like the upbeat, quirky fun elements created the perfect balance. I really liked the idea that certain types of magic leave behind a residue that has to be cleaned by specialists like Cara. I’ve never seen anything like that before, and I loved that at the end of the story, there’s a note from the author about his family member who made his own brooms, too. How cool to be able to bring something so personal to life in a fantasy novel. I loved that it was part of the inspiration. I feel like readers looking for stories about schools for wizard students will love this fresh, fun book. FULL REVIEW.
Mary R. Lanni, book review blog
Magic is the tether connecting this story of family, friendship, and finding one’s place in the world…This is a delightfully constructed magical adventure for middle grade readers who do not always recognize their true worth. FULL REVIEW.
Our Town Book Reviews
Very fun and quite quirky. You’ll love the main character, Cara. We’ve all been in her place in our lives but our janitor work wasn’t cleaning up magic messes:) I could liken this to Harry Potter or Elizbeth Rain’s Rule Academy 9 series, but it is its own book. Its own feeling and its own theme. It’s also not all fun and games. There are some deep subjects touched on in the plot and all are handled well by the author. A must read for a middle grade reader or a YA reader or...an old reader like me.
Andi's Middle-Grade and Chapter Book Review
I noticed a lot of echoes of Harry Potter right from the beginning. But Lee Edward Fodi adds in his own twists. I mean, have you ever heard of MOPs? I guess you would say it's essentially what Filch does, but these are kids who are still forced to clean up the magical messes of the actual wizards, even when they are good and happy spells. And the common perception of "The Chosen One" is kind of blown out of the water in this one. Cara is also snarkier than you would have found in HP, which I appreciated as an adult. She does learn a lot and grows a lot as a person, so there are plenty of learning moments within. You get a balance between the heavy and the humor. It's another fun addition to the magical wizard genre.
The Avid Reader Spell Sweeper is a thrilling magical read that swept me away from the first page and I was hooked forevermore ... There are a lot of lies, secrets, and betrayals in Spell Sweeper that keep it interesting and the pages rolling. Don’t get me wrong Spell Sweeper is a fun read that will have you laughing right out loud on more than one occasion. Cara’s hashtag using grandmother is hilarious.
I really enjoyed reading about Cara Moone and the dust magic and I hope to see more of Cara and the rest of the Spell Sweeper cast in future books. I would recommend Spell Sweeper to middle age children or anyone who likes a good magical read!
Gina Rae Mitchell, book review blog
This non-stop thriller of a book is sure to sweep you away to the fantastic world created by Lee Edward Fodi. Every scene is carefully crafted to advance the story and keep you on your toes. Cara fails miserably while at Wizard School and is relegated to a MOP ( Magical Occurrence Purger}, otherwise known as a custodian, cleaning up magical residue left from spells. The action is non-stop and humor graces nearly every page. While the book obviously puts you in mind of a Harry Potter tale, Cara and crew make this book their own with fun antics, Pick up a copy today and be swept away to Dragonsong Island, where nothing is ever quite as it seems.
Babies, Books, & Beer
I thought this was great. The humor will land with both kids and adults, the author pokes fun at all of the magical tropes in lovely and fun ways. Cara is a fantastic underdog that you can’t help but root for. The entire cast of characters were quirky and enjoyable. I love middle grade stories that send the message that you don’t have to stand out to be a star. It’s such an important lesson to learn at that age, and when a book can subtly work that into an entertaining story, it’s that much better.