It’s another Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at ALWAYS in the MIDDLE and what better way to celebrate than a featured review of THE 12th CANDLE by Kim Tomsic.

x510Middle school meets magic in this hilarious and heartfelt novel about a girl whose life flips when she wishes on an enchanted candle—perfect for fans of Sarah Mlynowski and Wendy Mass.

Sage Sassafras’s life is cursed! No, really. Since birth, Sage has been plagued by the Contrarium Curse that’s set her at odds with classmate Priscilla Petty.

Every time something goes right for Priscilla, it goes terribly, horribly wrong for Sage. And things always go well for Priscilla.

Sage blames the curse for all her middle school misery—from losing a friend to failing gym to gaining a reputation as the girl whose daddy’s in trouble. So when Sage is given a magical candle on her twelfth birthday, she seizes the chance to turn her luck around—with a wish to reverse the curse.

But when the consequences of her wish take a terrible turn, Sage has to team up with her worst enemy—before she’s doomed to a life of opposites forever.

TO BE PUBLISHED: October 8, 2019   PAGE COUNT: 336

MY THOUGHTS: Reaching a dozen birthdays and thinking of it as the time between childhood and teen years is the perfect draw to this story. Sage’s first person narration covers all of the fears and excitement of friendship, family, and doing the right thing. What a great name, too—Sage Sassafras.

The story has a contemporary feel but with the added elements of wishes and curses. Sage’s mom is overwhelmed with financially keeping the family going while Sage’s father is serving time as a convicted bank robber. Not the best scenario you’d want hanging over you at middle school.  A nasty feud with classmate Priscilla centers around pranks and putdowns. How they begin to see each other in a new way is helped along with a few plot twists, especially those surrounding the special 12th candle.

The forty chapters flow along nicely and emerging readers should not be scared away at the page count. The story keeps tugging on you to read more. Of course it helps to have engaging characters who all change in their own way. Heartwarming, smart, and fulfilling, put this one high on your Fall reading list.


THE 12th CANDLE by Kim Tomsic

  1. I love to read books set in my home state. With references to Denver, Cherry Creek Mall, and a few others, it was nice to look out the window and smile that the story unfolded not too far away.
  2. The secondary characters were strong in their own way, especially Justin, Priscilla, and Mrs. Rimmels. A great supporting cast made possible by the author’s gift of making them seem real.
  3. Middle school can be difficult journey. From changing clothes for gym class to unsettled friendships, young readers have a friend here to provide a little therapy for their worries.
  4. One plot point was left unresolved which provides an opportunity for classroom discussion with What do you think will happen next?
  5. The story wrapped me up in something this world could use more of: Kindness.


Kim Tomsic was “made” in France, born on an American military base in Italy, and has lived in various parts of the United States. She has been the new-girl at many schools which is probably why she is now a declared extrovert and enjoys helping others connect. Although Kim admires nice shoes, she’s super-awkward in heels and can usually be found in flip-flops and on her way to a yoga class.

Fast facts: Kim is a reader, writer, dreamer, believer, exclamation point abuser, lover of peanut M&Ms, devourer of ling-hi-muis, and fan of all things children’s literature. She is active with the SCBWI and serves as Co-RA for the Rocky Mountain Chapter. Kim is also on the Board of Directors for the Friends of Haiti, a 501 (c) 3 charity organized to provide Haitian students the opportunity to go to school. Kim claims two super-powers: parallel parking and fierce loyalty. She has one husband, two children, and two dogs—all keep her laughing. (For more visit Kim’s author website)


Comment below. I enjoy reading each one!

If you missed my Friday review of MALAMANDER, the first book in a fantastic new series, take a look at it here.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to THE 12th CANDLE

  1. Andrea Mack says:

    This sounds like a really fun read! I bet kids will really like this, with the wishes and curses!

  2. Natalie Aguirre says:

    I like the idea of a story about wishes, curses, and birthdays. This sounds like a great story. Thanks!

  3. Oh, this one is going on my TBR list right now! Thanks for the insightful review and for sharing this book for MMGM, Greg.

  4. Denise O’Brian says:

    My son just turned 12 so this is a natural fit. Looking forward to getting a copy when it comes out. Thanks for your review.

  5. This sounds like such a fun book. I remember what that age was like for me and for my Kiddo. This is a book she would have loved at that age (now she thinks she’s to mature for kidlit).

  6. Stephanie@Fairday's Blog says:

    This sounds like a lot of fun. I have many students who are fans of Wendy Mass- so I will have to check this one out so I can recommend it to them. Thanks for putting this on my radar. 🙂

  7. You make this one sound very intriguing. I will try to pick this one up. I’m always interested in the old be-careful-what-you-ask-for theme. Thanks for the review.

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