Who doesn't like to root for an underdog? As I read Totem Magic, Going Mad, I cheered for Enrique and Connie to win against the evil witch doctor who kidnaps Connie's father, the leader of Green Force. Furthermore, I rooted for Enrique to discover the strength and courage within himself to fight against bullies; those in school and in the secretive Magic User community.
John Griffith, a California environmental educator, wrote an engaging and creative book for teens. Connie and Enrique, otherwise known as Vulchy, are best friends in sixth grade whose families are part of the Magic User community. Each member of the community is a totem mage born with the gift to protect an animal threatened by extinction. Going MAD in the Magic Users community is a rite of passage. The community and the world's existence are threatened when Connie's dad is kidnapped by Kaktor, the evil witch doctor. Will Connie and Enrique save Connie's dad and the planet? The story has a surprising twist to keep the reader engaged to the end.
The author had the best time creating and writing about the funny, unusual and sometimes grotesque cast of characters that Connie and Enrique run into along their quest. Both teens are forced to problem solve in unique ways to conquer physical and mental obstacles; each given a magical tool, sunglasses and flip flops, by the people's witch to aid them.
Connie, a black girl, is a strong character who doesn't take crap from people, witches or monsters. Her strength throughout the journey helps Enrique to notice his own in spite of his fear. So when Vulchy vomited green puke on the vampire to escape death, I cheered with pride. In the end, it’s Vulchy becoming his totem mage that lifts his wings in ultimate self-confidence. Totem Magic, Going Mad is an engaging read for teens and adults that mirrors the complex themes of bullying and environmental degradation present in today’s world.