Monday, September 14, 2015

Upside-Down Magic, by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins

When Nory fails her entrance exam to the prestigious Sage Academy, she is sent to her Aunt Margo's to attend Upside Down Magic (UDM) class at Dunwiddle.  UDM is for kids whose magic is "wonky" (a not-so-PC word for the magic-challenged).  Nory is a "fluxer" (shape-shifter) with an unfortunate tendency to have her shapes shift in unexpected ways.  Her kittens grow beaver teeth and her skunks grow elephant trunks.  But in UDM class, she's joined by "flare" (fire-maker) who freezes things, a flyer (clairvoyants) who can't help but float away, and other kids with unusual and uncontrolled talents.  However, while Nory is finally among kids like herself, she longs to be normal and wants to find a way to cure herself.

The first of a series that merges a Harry Potter magic school theme with that very American sensibility for celebrating diversity, and aims it at a younger audience.  It's probably a winning formula and the trio of heavy hitters behind it is impressive.  Much more impressive for me was that for a team-written book it was surprisingly difficult to identify each writer's contribution. Jenkins in particular has a very notable dry humor which permeates the story, yet Mlynowski and Myracle are formidable presence as well.  I'm not a fan of middle grade series books, but I imagine this will be around for a while!

[Disclaimer:  I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.  Once I finish with it, I'll be donating it to my local public library.  The book is scheduled for release on September 29th.]

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