Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy/Jewish Mysticism/LGBTQ
“To put it simply, Harris Baumgartner was late to school on the first day of the seventh grade because something he saw in the abandoned lot at the end of his street changed his life forever…”
“Middle school can be tough, especially when you can’t figure out whether you’re supposed to be a boy or a girl. Homework and gym class are hard enough to deal with, but what exactly do you do when a pushy angel shows up insisting you’re a magical princess and that it’s your job to defend your school from the forces of darkness? For Harris Baumgartner, only one thing is certain — life is about to get a lot more complicated!”
Rabbi, author, teacher, fairy stepmother, and noted headscarf enthusiast Leiah Moser was ordained as a rabbi in the Reconstructionist Movement in 2017. Her first book, Magical Princess Harriet, was published in 2018. When not expanding the boundaries of Jewish fantasy fiction she works as a freelance teacher, endeavoring in her own quirky yet effective way to make the priceless treasures of Talmud and Jewish mysticism available and accessible to students from all walks of life… She lives in Philadelphia with her husband Ross and his amazing kids.
To learn more about Rabbi Moser please visit her website.
Wow, I had no idea what I was stepping into with this book. I was looking for something different, and I sure found it. Twelve year-old Harris Baumgartner and his mother have recently moved into a smaller more affordable house after Mr. Baumgartner deserted his small family. With no explanation to Harris, whose life is already complicated enough moving up to a new middle-grade school. Francis, his Autistic best friend, has struggled her whole young life in a neurotypical world.
So, Magical Princess Harriet tackles a lot of serious issues with compassion. I am not even close to this books demographic audience, I am not Jewish, transgender, Middle Grade aged, or Autistic. However, you do not need to be to enjoy this fantasy story that encompasses and explores all of these issues. The Jewish lore and magic is fascinating and endeavors to educate the reader in all its facets. Each chapter is started with statements or truths to Judaism lore.
There is also one other character who Harris/Harriet and Francis accept into their tight knit friendship. Aiden is a school outcast who expresses his inability to fit in with his Goth wardrobe. This trio works together to support each other while they fight an evil that threatens not only their school but the town and eventually the downfall of the whole world if not stopped. The characters are diverse, well-developed and likeable. The settings are multiple and described well enough to put you right where the action is.
I did find the whole book a little wordy at times, but it has a lot of good lessons on morality, acceptance, and life. I also enjoyed the humor to lighten the gravity of such heavy subjects. The story ends with harmony and I can see more stories being told with these three friends.
A small number of proofing issues.
Rating: **** Four Stars
Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words