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“With magic like mine, I’ve gotten used to people not wanting me around. So it was easy to believe you weren’t really my friend,” Pepper. —Showing Off
Upside Down Magic #3
by Sarah Mlynowski & Lauren Myracle & Emily Jenkins
Nory and the other students who have upside down magic struggle with fitting in. Some people, including Nory’s father, don’t think upside magic should be used. But with the school’s big show coming up, each class must prepare a program.
Nory isn’t sure she should use her magic at all. She’s thinking about sitting on the sidelines. Her friend Pepper is worried that her talent—scaring animals—will cause problems. With the help of a talking rabbit and a caring teacher, can the kids in the upside magic classroom figure out how to use their wacky magic to show others their abilities?
Showing Off has relatable characters who struggle with learning to accept their differences. Many readers will relate to Nory, who wants her father’s love and acceptance. Even though Nory wants to use her upside down magic to impress her father, she is willing to put her friends’ needs above her own.
Nory and her classmates end up in hilarious situations because of their magic. Even though the story revolves around each character’s magical talents, the story does not contain spells or portray magic in a realistic way. Instead, the story focuses on how many of the characters feel like misfits. In the end, several of the characters realize that their magic can be used in positive ways.
The long passages of text and the lack of illustrations may discourage some readers. However, the story will engage readers with the unique characters, the hilarious mishaps, and the struggle to fit. Showing Off also uses fun made-up words such as zamboozle and zwingo. Readers will learn that friends don’t make friends feel stupid as well as the importance of apologizing.
Even though Showing Off is the third installment of the Upside Magic Series, readers do not have to read previous books. For proficient readers looking for a dose of magic and silly disasters, Showing Off would make a good addition to the reading list.
- When Pepper enters a room with teachers and students who have fluexed into animals, the animals get scared. “Chimp-Hamil threw a jar of paint at Pepper. He had lost his human mind, but he appeared to be trying to protect his students as best he could.” No one is injured.
- In the past, one of the characters was mean. “Nory still has a burn scar from the flaming tennis balls you threw at her. You helped melt my bike tires. . . You let Lacey burn Andres’s leash.”
- While using her powers, a character accidentally catches a piano on fire. “The piano burst into flames. Wood crackled. Wires popped. Black and white keys flew into the air like scattered decks of cards.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Each person has some type of magical power, such as “turning into ordinary animals like cats, dogs, cows, and goats.” When Nori tries to change into an animal she, “lost all control of her human mind” and she turns into a combination of animals such as a cat and a dragon.
- Some people can fly, talk to animals, or had other abilities like fire magic.
- Pepper’s magic makes animals scared. When she uses her magic, Pepper, “felt scared and slippery inside. . . When her magic turned on, something shifted within her. Her stomach turned to Jell-O. Her skin felt slick. Her thoughts flew every which way.”
- One of the characters has a power that “enables animals to speak our language.”
- Because the entire book focuses on the characters’ magic, not all magical events are described.