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Frogs & French Kisses    by Sarah Mlynowski order for
Frogs & French Kisses
by Sarah Mlynowski
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Frogs & French Kisses continues Rachel Weinstein's story from the highly-imaginative Bras & Broomsticks. Rachel is the elder of two sisters - the one who didn't inherit Mom's magical powers. It all went to younger sis Miri. Rachel begins, 'I'm perched on a floating broom, my arms squeezing the life out of my little sister's waist.' Mom (currently a non-practicing witch) decides it's time for Miri to hone her witch skills. So, off on a broom go Miri and Rachel.

Rachel tells us 'I gingerly open my right eye as we shoot past the gate to our rented cottage and zoom over the dirt road'. As chances for mishaps heighten, the broom and its two riders end up in a pasture full of cows. Miri zaps the cows out of the pasture so they won't be taken to the slaughterhouse. Where do they end up? Rachel finds out on the first day back after the JFK High School's Spring break. Yup! every cow is in the school - classes are cancelled for a few days, and the estimated damage to the building is $40,000. While the mystery of who was responsible for the prank hangs in everyone's mind, Miri conjures a reproducing spell, i.e. one $20 dollar-bill becomes forty thousand-dollars. The renovations begin and the school board doesn't have the faintest idea where the money came from.

Rachel has had some bad times since she last visited readers, messing up school dances and a relationship with boyfriend Raf, after Miri provided a few spells to teach Rachel how to dance, and for Raf to fall for Rachel. The A-list is out of her life for a while, as classmates - one socialite in particular named London who ended up with a broken leg - all now have it in for Rachel. Miri conjures a spell to make Raf love Rachel again, but it instead affects Raf's older brother Will, a senior. What's a girl to do, especially since Will professes his love to Rachel, and asks her to the Senior Prom! She's still carrying the torch for Raf - but the Prom, how can a girl resist that invite?

Meanwhile, Rachel and Miri are encouraging Mom's desire to start dating again, now that Dad is remarried. Mom resists at first but then her dating calendar is full - and I mean full - so the girls end up with a lot of takeout and zapped meals, courtesy of busy Mom. In between handling classmates - who have put not-too-complimentary pictures of Rachel on the Net and in school restrooms, etc. - Miri has Rachel's help in save the world episodes, such as cleaning up an oil spill, attempts to bring rain to the State of California, feeding the homeless, and returning zoo animals back to where they were born (the latter creates havoc!)

The biggest mountain Rachel has to face is that the Prom might be cancelled because the school auditorium won't be reconstructed in time. Will is a big cheese on the school council and the Prom committee, which ends up holding an auction to raise money to hold the prom in another facility. Rachel's contribution is to be a flat-screen large TV - Miri's spelling finally grows a TV. But all the TV stations only broadcast Sound of Music, which happened to be part of the advertisement Rachel cut-up into the spell-pot. So, dump the TV idea, the next is a Mercedes with a spell cast on a tricycle!

Mlynowski's newest Weinstein episode is a family affair full of disasters, with a few victories. Mom returns to her craft as a magicaholic, Miri's school grades drop due to her occupation with world problems, and Rachel continues her non-stop attempts to get and stay on that A-List (even though she admits to 'social leprosy'). Frogs & French Kisses is a non-stop, calamitous, fun read. Watch for the third in the trilogy, Spells & Sleeping Bags.

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