Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend, by Katie Zhao

Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend (Winnie Zheng #1) by Katie Zhao is an excellent one for the young reader who loves their mythology and demon fighting mixed with tasty cooking!  

Winnie is anxious about starting middle school, and is dismayed when her nemesis, David, shows up in her class.  Nemesis is perhaps too strong a word; David is just utterly obnoxious, has beaten her in recent piano competitions, and is her arch rival at Chinese school.  Winnie's also dealing with a lot of pressure to succeed from her parents, and is sad that her big sister has pulled away from her.  She feels that she's never good enough, and it's eating at her. At least she still has her mother's tasty Chinese food (although the other kids at school don't react kindly to her lunches...).  

When Winnie finds her grandmother's old cook book and follows the recipe for mooncakes, all her other problems fade when her grandmother's spirit shows up and possesses her pet rabbit.  Her grandmother is a spirit hunter, and is about to take Winnie on as an apprentice shaman.  The first malevolent spirit that shows up is easily vanquished with the mooncakes she unwittingly made with magic baked in, but mooncakes aren't a match for more powerful demons.  And then it turns out that David is also a shaman in training too, and is (of course) more advanced than she is, and utterly obnoxious about it all.  But teaming up with him is the only way to keep her town safe.

Of course it's cool to be part of a magical organization, with legends coming to life around you.  Winnie isn't at all sure, though, that this is what she wants her life to be....

It is super fun!  The real world and the magical world balance each other beautifully, and Winnie is such a believable, relatable heroine!  (Especially the part where she questions whether "heroine" is what she really wants to be...).  I liked how the sister relationship played out--communication between the two girls improves, and helps them tighten their bond again. The food was great too--I now want to try red bean paste brownies, which I've never had (Winnie makes them for the class bake sale, and it's touch and go for a while before suspicious kids realize how tasty they are!).

A great "kid discovering she's part of a line of mythological heroes" story that's more firmly tied to the real world and  the day to day challenges of being a middle school kid than the Rick Riordan Presents line of books.  Also weaponized mooncakes ftw!

I'm looking forward to seeing what Winnie (and David) do next!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed this one so much. I'm reading it now and found it to be a fast read. Natalie @ Literary Rambles


Free Blog Counter

Button styles