by Chelsea Flagg

Tinsey Clover is smart. She’s brave. Also, she can’t carry a tune to save her life. Oh yeah, plus she\’s an elf the size of a chipmunk. When her bizarre magical power grows in and makes her feel like a total outsider in her own village, Tinsey sneaks into the forbidden forest on a journey to find someone more like her. From trolls to dragons, what she discovers along the way challenges everything, and everyone, she thought she knew.

A coming of age story for early middle grade fans of Sarah Mlynowski, Kate DiCamillo, and Chris Colfer.

We speed through the forest, zig-zagging between tree trunks so huge not even a giant could wrap his arms around one, let alone find the radius and diameter on the thing. The morning fog’s mostly gone now, which makes it much easier to see the little burst of reds and yellows from the wildflowers that grow here. The most colorful item around though is Aspen’s hair. Although, I must say, it looks less like hair and much more like a blue blur as he races ahead of me on his fox.

Pretty soon, all the head honcho trealfurs come into view, sitting knee to knee to form an oval. At first, each of the trealfurs looks like a tiny ant, but they quickly grow as our foxes dart closer toward the council spot.

Aspen barks sharply, and his fox comes to a halt right away. Of course. My fox, on the other hand, doesn’t even slow down, let alone stop. Maybe it didn’t hear Aspen’s orders, but I know better. This fox is just being cheeky, because that’s how wild animals are with me sometimes. It’s like they know I don’t fit in here, too. All I can do is hold on as my rowdy critter runs at full speed straight into the circle. Trealfurs scatter and roll everywhere, trying not to get run over. And still, my ride barrels forward. That’s another thing about animals: they are not always sensible.

Tucking my chin to my chest, I let go and bounce off, hitting the cold green blanket of moss and leaves on the ground. I don’t have much time to notice how it feels to have the air knocked out of my lungs before my whole body rolls noggin over knees and shoulders over shins. Funny sounds pop out of my mouth that I have absolutely no control over.

“Ooof! Eeef! Ouch!” And, my personal favorite: “AIEEEEE!”

I summersault straight toward Uncle Vondur, the King of the Bungaborg Trealfurs, forcing him to dive out of my way. But, I don’t stop there. No sirree. I careen right past him and into a large bush. Some might think rolling into a bush is a lucky thing, and usually I would agree. Unless it happens to be a very healthy thistle plant. Don’t get me wrong, the purple burrs on a thistle plant are quite beautiful, but just not so much when you’re rolling around in them.

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Having read the Upside-Down Magic series by Sarah Mlynowski, I can firmly say this book’s description doesn’t lie. Tinsey Clover is perfect for kids (or adults…hi) who enjoy early middle grade fantasies about epic characters with lots of heart and guts.

The writing style, as evidenced by the excerpt above, is hilarious. It’s exactly what I expected from a book aimed at this audience. While the writing is fun and the story is a fantastic adventure, there’s plenty of serious stuff and important lessons to be learned. Teamwork and that different looks don’t make people (or fairies/trolls/mythical creatures) different are two of the major themes in this book, and Flagg does an excellent job of bringing them out.

I couldn’t complete a review of this book without talking about our awesome protagonist, Tinsey. She’s a character early middle grade readers can relate to. She doesn’t feel like she fits in, and she’s always wanted to be someone different. When she leaves her home thinking she’ll find all the answers somewhere else, she quickly finds out that problems are the same no matter where you are. Thanks to a rag-tag team of heroes, Tinsey not only saves herself but saves her friends, both new and old. I cheered for her all the way through this book.

There was nothing about this I didn’t like. Tinsey’s new power is amazingly cute. The characters are well-rounded, and the story is a perfect length. It’s also a great setup for possible sequels, which I’d personally love to see. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a feel-good story with fun and friendship.

-What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always loved writing, even as a little kid. Throughout my life, I’ve consistently gravitated toward whatever writing piece a job had to offer. I blogged long before blogging was cool, and have always dabbled in storytelling. It wasn’t until my three daughters were born that I fully jumped into calling myself a writer. I remember the first time I said that title aloud to someone who asked what I did. It felt great! And intimidating, too. But, now I say it with confidence!

-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?

Great question! I would follow Sky, the impossibly fluffy bunny, to his home. I’m sure he’s got lots of even fluffier siblings (maybe I’ll explore that in the sequel??). I’d hang out there, petting round, little bunnies.

-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)

Tinsey would tell me she really, really hates that her magical power is the ability to summon cleaning products with the snap of her finger, ha! I’d tell her, “too bad, kid. It’s part of your story.”

-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?

For sure Tinsey, even though she’s far too young to drink. We’d grab a hot chocolate, though. I feel such a connection to little Tinsey – almost like she is me in a way.

-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?

No question, I’d be the guy who ducks down under the table and scurries right out of there. I’m not nearly as adventurous or confrontational as my book characters, ha!

-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?

I tried writing Young Adult, because I feel like that’s just something every writer tries on at some point. I could not, for the life of me, get the voice right. I can’t write angsty, and let’s face it, even in the best of situations, young adults always have an edge of angst. I just couldn’t capture it correctly.


Chelsea was born and raised in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, where she spent countless hours writing stories. Mostly about cats.

In 2015, she published her first book: a quirky memoir for adults called I\’d Rather Wear Pajamas that talks all about the journey through her young adult life that led to her becoming an author. It was an Amazon #1 best seller for five straight days and continues to elicit full belly laughs from its readers.

After the birth of her children, Chelsea shifted her writing to the kidlit world. She’s thrilled to share her newest baby: Tinsey Clover.

Chelsea lives in Boulder with her husband and three practically perfect daughters. Unfortunately, she doesn’t own any cats.

Find her online:



Chelsea Flagg will be awarding $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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