A suburban family undergoes some comic, unexpected experiences when a voodoo priestess is hired to watch the children, in this humorous Middle Grade/Young Adult novel.
Simon and Denise Belkirk and their children are a successful, upscale African-American family living in an affluent suburb of New York City. When Simon and Denise are invited on a business cruise from Hawaii to Tahiti, they are faced with one problem: Who will watch the children while they are away?
Enter Madame Coco LaFitte, a distant cousin of Denise's, who has recently left Haiti for political reasons, and is looking for a home. Coco, it turns out, is studying to become a voodoo priestess, and Simon and Denise are not convinced that she is the best choice to watch their children. However, Coco soon endears herself to the family, and Simon and Denise leave her in charge, after Simon insists that Coco promise she will not practice any sort of magic in their absence. Coco agrees, but reminds him that "Sometimes magic just happens."
And does it ever! The Belkirks' four children - Marshall, 16; Tiffany, 14; Kendra, 8; and Corey, the 12 year old narrator - all experience Coco's magic - often unwelcome - as she tries to help them with sports tryouts, dating, pet hamsters and difficult teachers, while stressing the necessity of practicing only good magic.