Review: Upside-Down Magic (Upside-Down Magic #1)

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,…

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Review: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret

Eleven-year-old Margaret has just moved to New Jersey, and she feels torn between picking a religion. Should she join the Y or the Jewish Community Center? Every day, Margaret talks to God, asking him for favors and advice. With feuding grandparents on each side of the religious debate and non-church going parents, Margaret must figure out who she truly is and what she believes in faith-wise. As if thinking about religion isn’t hard enough, Margaret is also going through puberty. With her clique of friends, she is concerned about her chest size and getting her period. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret is a clearly defined pre-teen book for third to sixth graders that used to land on many challenged book lists for its sexual offensiveness and amorality. I am sure some readers can laugh at Margaret asking God to please let her get her period while others may be offended that…

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Review: Space Case (Moon Base Alpha #1)

Twelve-year-old Dash leaves his comfortable Hawaiian life behind so that his non-geeky, scientist parents can work on the space station, Moon Base Alpha. The humor and inconvenience of pooping in space soon becomes overshadowed by the death of Dr. Holtz, one of the base’s top scientists. With Dr. Holtz about to announce a breakthrough in his studies, Dash fails to believe that his death is an accident, as everyone else is led to believe. After a cryptic video message, Dash begins to investigate and risks his own life to uncover the truth in this suspenseful fourth to seventh grade read. Although I have seen this title recommended for third graders, the content, vocabulary, and plot are rather intense. Space Case is a juvenile version of The Martian, full of space and science terminology with the added bonus of a murder mystery. Frazier almost mimics the audio version of The Martian,…

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