Parent & Daughter Book Club – Upside-Down Magic

3 min read

Our January book selection for girls in 2nd and 3rd grades is…

Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowksi, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins

Next week we’ll send everyone who has signed up for Book Club a Meeting Guide with Discussion Questions.

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About the Book

Nory is all set to begin 5th grade at Sage Academy. Her brother goes there. Her sister goes there. Her father is headmaster. There’s just the small matter of the admissions test. The problem is, Nory’s magic has a tendency to go all “wonky.” Even turning into something as simple as a black kitten goes awry.

When her admissions test is a disaster, Nory’s father sends her away to a program for kids with upside-down magic. Nory is determined to suppress her weird magic and prove that she can do normal magic. She hopes that if she succeeds she’ll be allowed to go home.

But, does getting rid of her wonky magic also mean getting rid of what makes her unique?

The Girls Leadership Connection

It’s natural to want to fit in. Sometimes we even change or hide parts of ourselves in order to do so. In Upside-Down Magic, Nory wants to hide her wonky magic in a “box of normal,” and she’s ready to do almost anything to make her magic just like everyone else’s.

When one of her friends needs her help, Nory decides to help him even though it means showing her wonky magic to everyone. In order to become the strongest version of herself, she has to acknowledge her true feelings. Being herself feels so amazing that she decides to make it a habit, even if that means not fitting in with the cool kids in the normal class.

Think of a time when you felt you spoke or acted from your true self.

  • How did it feel to be authentic? What was the reaction you got?
  • When do you feel you have to fit in, and find yourself changing or hiding who you are in order to do so?
  • When, and with whom, do you feel true belonging?
  • What kind of support would help you be your true self more often?
  • How could you support your kids and others in their authenticity?

Buy, borrow, or download a copy of this book and read it before your January book club meeting.

About the Authors

Emily Jenkins writes picture books and chapter books for young readers, and for young adults under the name E. Lockhart. Lauren Myracle writes for young readers through young adults. Sarah Mlynowksi writes the Whatever After series for young readers, as well as books for young adults. Together, they have written three books in the Upside-Down Magic series. To learn more about the series, visit the Scholastic series page.

Learn More

As the writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said, “…what I want to say to young girls, is forget about likability … The world is such a wonderful, diverse, and multifaceted place that there’s somebody who’s going to like you; you don’t need to twist yourself into shapes.” Her whole speech at the Girls Write Now 2015 awards ceremony is worth a listen. It’s very short, and your book club might enjoy discussing Ms Adichie’s statements about truth and likability. (Head’s up: there is a minor swear word in the speech.)

In her book Daring Greatly, Brené Brown writes that “fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”

Ask yourself, what kind of support do you need to simply be who you are? What can you do to support your daughter and others? To read more about Brené Brown’s research into belonging, shame, and whole-hearted living, check out her books and Ted Talks. You might even consider having a parents-only book club meeting. Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection are great reads for parents.

We can’t wait to hear what your book club thinks of this selection!

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