Upside Down Magic

upsidedownby Sarah Mynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins
First sentence: “Nory Horace was trying to turn herself into a kitten.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy pilfered off the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Content: It’s simple enough for the younger set; probably good for advanced 2nd graders and up. It’s in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.

Nory has a problem. She’s a witch, and she wants to get into the prestigious magic school that her super stuffy, absent father is head of. All she needs to do is turn into a kitten and hold that form for a few minutes. The problem is that she can’t do it. Well, she can turn into a kitten, but it never is just a kitten: it’s a beaver-kitten, or a dragon-kitten, or some other awful, terrible combination.

sOf course she doesn’t get into the school, and ends up going to a public magic school (the horror) and put in a class for those with “wonky” magic. There’s a kid who floats but can’t come down, another kid who turns into a rock, one who makes it rain inside and another one who is terrifying to animals. They are working to not only accept their magic as valid (in this society, those with wonky magic are Outcasts) and work together to make their magic do something incredible.

I think there’s a certain sort of kid who would love this kind of book. The kind of kid who likes magic stories, who likes an underdog story, and who doesn’t want to smack the adults in the book. I, unfortunately, am not that kid. I was annoyed at the predictable storyline and wanted to smack both the dad (the aunt who Nory ends up with is okay) and the mean girl at the new school. I understand I’m not the intended audience, so even though I didn’t care for it much, I realize that there are kids out there who will. And so I’m glad I read it for that reason.

(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)

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