Upside-Down Magic

by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins (2015)

A Sweet Spot and Intermediate selection.

Nory Horace was trying to turn herself into a kitten.

She was hiding in case something went wrong.

The world went blurry, and Nory’s heart beat faster.  Her body stretched and shrank.

But wait.

Her front legs weren’t kitten legs.

And what was this nose?  It was more of a snout.  A beaver nose.

Zamboozle!

I’m half kitten and half beaver, Nory realized.

Her magic.

Had definitely.

Gone wonky.

 

In Nory’s world, magic presents itself in many ways. For instance, one can be a Flare (control fire), a Flicker (become invisible), a Fluxer (transform into different animals), a Fuzzy (communicate with animals), or a Flyer (take flight). For Nory, however, magic isn’t so straightforward – or easy. And after years of waiting, Nory is finally taking the entrance exam for Sage Academy, a very important, very fancy school of magic where her father is Headmaster. Her brother went there. Her sister went there. Nory was expected to go there, too.

But when Nory’s magic goes “wonky” during her entrance exam – she can turn into different animal combinations! – her father sends her to live with a distant aunt Nory hasn’t seen in years so that she can attend a school for kids who struggle with their magic. There, Nory is enrolled in the Upside-Down Magic class, where she acquires a very interesting group of friends…

There’s Elliot, a Flare who can only conjure ice from his fingertips. There’s Andres, who has to be held by a leash to keep him from floating away. And Bax, who… well, we’ll let you find out about Bax’s power on your own. Thanks to the unconventional lessons of their teacher, Ms. Starr, these students are able to understand that everyone, no matter what kind of magic they wield, deserves respect just as they are. 

In Upside-Down Magic, your students will explore, in an upside-down kind of way, how people assign labels to each other to distinguish differences.  It’s a subtle way to gain a little literary insight into the roots and pitfalls of stereotyping, communicated in a playful, accessible manner appropriate for younger readers, too.  Getting to know the different, quirky, unorthodox, funny, creative characters in Upside-Down Magic, can instead reveal how differences are valuable, essential, and sometimes just plain fun!

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