Thursday, October 8, 2015

MG Fantasy: Upside Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins

Published by:  Scholastic Press
on  September 29th 2015
Genres: Fantasy/Magic
Pages: 208
Format: Hardcover
Source:  Library

Nory Horace is about to take a very big test, one that will determine whether she can attend the prestigious Sage Academy with her brother and sister.  The very same academy where her dad is the headmaster, so it is very important to her that she doesn't embarrass him.  Nory has been preparing really hard to transform into a cute black kitten, but sometimes her magic just seems to go "wonky," and instead she ends up as a mixture of two different animals.  The worst part is she also seems to loose a piece of her human self and there are usually terrible consequences when this happens.   Like the time that she became a Bitten (a beaver and a kitten), and she chewed up all the wood in her dad's office.  It's no surprise when Nory ends up failing her test,  but her dad deciding to send her to live with her Aunt Margo and attend public school in a special magic class for children who have "upside down magic," well that's a complete surprise.  Despite beginning to finally make some friends and understand her abilities a bit better, Nory tries to petition her principal to let her retake her test, so that she can transfer to Sage Academy.  With the help of a special book, she just might be able to pass this time.  

Nory experiences a lot of the same anxieties that a new student to school would face.  At the same time, she feels very badly for letting her father down, and hurt by the way that he reacts.  What I didn't understand is why her father rejected her so much.  He wouldn't take her calls and didn't even let her talk to her siblings, very confusing.  Nory herself is very sweet, she really wants to be normal, but in her world normal means having control over your magic.  Which she really doesn't.  Upside Down Magic has a very diverse group of characters each with a unique magical ability. Some that can fly, make fire, transform, those are the "normal" kids.  But, Nory and her classmates magic doesn't work that way.  They end up making ice, scaring animals or turn into a rock and can't turn back.  An interesting way for the authors to broach the topic of individuals with disabilities.   I really enjoyed Pepper, who seems to be really misunderstood and has this bad reputation that gets attached to her, just because she is unable to turn off her magical abilities around animals and they fear her.   I also really enjoyed their teacher Ms. Starr, who was teaching them to talk in positives and not to say that their magic was "wrong."  Overall, a magical book with a diverse group of characters and a message of accepting yourself the way that you are.  

Upside Down Magic  has been nominated for the Cybils award and my review reflects my personal opinion, not the opinion of the Cybils committee. 

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