Deeper Messages in Upside Down Magic

Imagine a world of magic where every child comes into their powers at 10. At that point, they come into their abilities and are “supposed” to fall into the neatly organized categories of magic – fluxer, flicker, flare, fuzzy, and flyer. Now imagine that when your magic comes in, it doesn’t quite fit the “normal” mold. That’s the concept behind the great series by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins, Upside Down Magic.

My 8 year old daughter is in love with this series and I felt that I had to understand what drew her to it so much. Plus, I had listened to pieces of most of the books while with my daughter.  The books center on Nory Horrace and her classmates who have magical abilities that don’t fit into the mold that everyone expects. Nory is a fluxer, someone who can change into animals, but rather than a single animal, she typically becomes a combination of things such as a kitten and dragon, a dritten! The problem is that Nory’s father happens to be the headmaster of an elite magical boarding school and they do not accept students who are not “normal.” Because of this, Nory gets sent to live with her aunt and enrolls in a program for kids with “upside down magic.”

Now that I have read and/or listened to most of these books, I have come to realize that there are a number of really important messages that weave their way through every book in the series. Two of my favorites are embracing differences in yourself and others and that it takes a village. Wow. Those are really amazing concepts to instill in kids without bashing them over the head with it. I especially like how they deal with the pressure that Nory gets from her father.

So far, each book focuses on a different kid and how their magic impacts their life, with Nory getting attention in every title. In addition to feeling a bit out of place and celebrating your differences, the three authors try to look at the other issues the class (and kids this age) might be facing. 

  • The students are often bullied for being different, but the point is also made that bullying can be done both intentionally and unintentionally.
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone and into new situations can be scary, but it can also be totally worth it.
  • Friendship, and how we treat our friends, is a common theme. You are not always going to agree with your friends and sometimes you are not always treated the way you should be, and vice versa.
  • Overcoming obstacles is a way of life for these kids. Sometimes obstacles make it hard to keep up with everyone else, but sometimes being differently-abled can work to your advantage because there are things that you are capable of doing that no one else can.

The quality of books for early middle grade readers these days is phenomenal and this series is one of the reasons why. The characters are just silly enough to keep you from even realizing there is something deeper going on. Nory continues to change into all sort of different animals and the pictures you can create in your head are priceless. Who wouldn’t be shocked by a blue-bird/elephant? The 6th book is coming out in September and I know this will be one of my purchases when our book fair comes around!

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