Nine-year-old Nory cannot control her magic. She has the ability to transform into different animals, but unfortunately for Nory, this means many hungry, sometimes dangerous creatures at the same time. During her exam to receive a spot in her father’s prestigious magic academy, everything goes wrong for Nory—especially after she tries eating her dad and almost burns the school to fiery pieces. Sent away to live with her aunt and attend the Upside-Down Magic Academy, a school for children who have equally wonky abilities, Nory must come to terms with her powerful magic. Even though Nory spends most her time trying to make friends and prove that she deserves a spot in her father’s academy, she begins to appreciate and control her abilities. Upside-Down Magic is a fantastical read perfect for third to sixth graders that would entice those harder to engage readers. With themes of friendship, bullying, and acceptance, I found myself enthralled and laughing along with all of their adventures and troubles. The story reminded me of Pip Bartlett’s Guide To Magical Creatures and is the first in a series that I would continue to read. Soler performs a suspenseful, emotion-packed reading that had me laughing within minutes. Upside-Down Magic might be one of the best-narrated juvenile fiction books that I have heard by a single reader in a long time.
Upside-Down Magic (Upside-Down Magic #1) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins and read by Rebecca Soler (Scholastic, 2015)