Nory and the Upside Down Magic (UDM) kids are back, still working to control their “wonky” talents. This time, not only are they practicing their magic in the classroom, but they also need to come up with an act for the annual variety show.
Pepper is learning that not only can she control her magic (scaring animals) for short bursts, but she can also use it to help people with pest problems. This discovery helps her make an unexpected friend.
Nory finds out the school variety show means her dad and her siblings are going to come to her school.Maybe if she can turn herself into an impressive and complicated animal, her dad will finally accept her and be proud of her.
I am a sucker for any book that expertly looks at the concept of identity. And this series does that! Each of the kids in the UDM class is working out his/her individual issues with magic. Identity is impacted by how their families and peers respond to their differences – and also by how the kids feel about themselves. The authors address these complex concepts in terrific age-appropriate ways.
I have talked with some parents in the past who are reluctant to have their kids read books with magic. I get where they are coming from, and I’m glad they are engaged with what their kids are reading! With this series – like many other favorites of mine, the magic is a plot device. It puts the kids in an unusual setting. It gives them out-of-the-ordinary problems to solve. I think that helps readers put themselves in the story more easily. They don’t know ANYONE who can turn themselves into a kitten, much less a kid who tries and gets it wrong. But they can imagine! What would it be like to do something amazing like that? How would it feel to get it wrong over and over? How would it feel to have your parent turn you away because you couldn’t get it right?
The books in this series (this is the third) are fairly short. They would make for terrific read-alouds at home or in the classroom. And I can only imagine how great the discussion could be afterwards as readers/listeners talk about identity, about failure, and about family. If you love this series, check out the other books by these three great authors – Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins