The Kindling (Middle School Magic #1) by Braden Bell

 All thirteen-year-old Connor Dell wants to do is pass pre-algebra, play lacrosse, and possibly kiss Melanie Stephens, but when a run-in with the school bully ignites strange powers inside him, Connor's normal teenage life goes up in flames. Now he'll need his new powers to defeat the Darkness that's coming for him. Fast-paced and original, this book's guaranteed to keep you guessing!
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by CedarFort Inc 
The Kindling is a story that I would recommend for family reading time. It is clean, has humor and also topics that are good for parents to discuss with young readers. The family unit is strong, and the teachers guide the characters to help them find their own powers and battle the dark.

The story is a fast paced read, the children gaining their powers and learning how to use them all at the same time. Eventually go on a vacation with their families that lead to an adventure and battle in Disney World.

There were times that I felt the writing was a bit choppy and could have been written in a smoother way to help the pacing. But nothing that would be noticeable to the younger readers this story is aimed for. The family unit and friendship is at the core of the characters story. The children have always been friends, having grown up together. There is some banter and joking among them and they are comfortable with each other, as well as fully trust each other. Each of them get the opportunity to stand out as an equal and help battle against the Dark. They go to their parents when they need help and openly question their teachers when they do not feel right about what is happening.
The story does focus on the idea of Light vs Dark and has religious undertones and very subtle. Also the main idea that the children must learn for themselves with only guidance from the adults to help find the light within themselves to battle the dark. Their teachers have them focus on how to create light to fight the dark, and they witness a battle scene between the teachers and the Stalker very early in the story. This helps them understand that there is an urgency for them to learn how to harness their own powers. 
 The reoccurring theme of light and goodness pushes the Magi powers to come through. As the patronus represents in the Harry Potter series, so does sigil's the Magi use. By taking on the shape of light streaks and animals that fight against the dark. The more unique aspect to this story was the inclusion of music into the battle scenes. The teachers use humming and singing to help them battle the Stalker and the Dark Hands and focus their powers to become stronger. 


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