Nory is ten and desperately wants to pass the Big Test to gain entry to the elite Sage Academy where her father, Dr Horace, is the principal. Her brother, Hawthorn, who is sixteen and a Flare, and her sister, Dalia, who is thirteen and a Fuzzy, both attend Sage. The problem is that Nory’s magic goes wonky. When she tries to turn into a cute black kitten she does, sort of. Except her kitten becomes a bitten; half kitten, half beaver, and the beaver part of her wants nothing more than to chew wood and build a dam.
After failing the entrance exam to Sage, Nory winds up being sent to live with her Aunt Margo, who’s practically a stranger, so she can attend the Upside-Down Magic class at Dunwiddle Magic School and Nory’s not happy about it at all. All she wants to do is fix her magic so she can be normal.
In this world of magic there are the five F’s:
- Flares, who can do fire magic
- Fuzzies, who do animal magic
- Flickers, who can make themselves or objects invisible
- Flyers are usually only able to fly themselves, but special flyers, like Aunt Margo, can take passengers
- Fluxers can transform into animals. “Thinking about opposites is a great place to start understanding unusual magic.” Ms. Starr’s Upside-Down Magic class is being offered for the first time and Nory and her fellow misfits are the outcasts in the school. In Ms. Starr’s class Nory and her classmates learn to trust, forgive and manage their emotions. Hopefully they can also learn that being different means that their abilities are special, not something to be ashamed of.
Nory’s classmates have some really interesting abilities. Elliott is a Flare but his fire magic can turn into ice. Andres floated up to the ceiling one day and hasn’t come down since, so he’s afraid of wide-open spaces. Pepper is a Fierce, an Upside-Down Fuzzy, who terrifies animals including Fluxers. Pepper is afraid of snakes. Sebastian is a Flicker who sees sound waves. Marigold shrinks things and is also described as having a hearing aid. Willa is a Flare who makes it rain indoors. Willa is afraid of worms. Bax turns into a rock and needs medicine to change back. Naturally he’s afraid of sledgehammers. We don’t know what Ms. Starr’s ability is yet, but we know she’s afraid of heights.
This is a feel good story that made me smile and I feel better about the world now. I love stories about outcasts who learn that fitting in doesn’t have to be the goal and that being different should be celebrated. I read this book a couple of years ago and enjoyed the reread even more. I love this Upside-Down class and can’t wait to read about their accidents and triumphs in the rest of the series.
Once Upon a Blurb
Nory Horace is nine years old. She’s resourceful, she’s brave, she likes peanut butter cookies. Also, she’s able to transform into many different animals. Unfortunately, Nory’s shape-shifting talent is a bit wonky. And when she flunks out of her own father’s magic academy, Nory’s forced to enter public school, where she meets a group of kids whose magic is, well, different.
This new, offbeat series from hit authors Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins chronicles the misadventures of Nory and her oddball friends, who prove that upside-down magic definitely beats right side up.