Four Read-Alikes for "Upside-Down Magic" on Disney+

Books with a dose of magic for kids who like Sarah Mlynowski’s middle grade series and the new streaming movie.  

Disney+ | TV-PG | Streaming now

Based on Sarah Mlynowski’s middle grade book series, this movie, set in the Sage Academy for Magical Studies, puts a funny spin on magic school. Thirteen-year-old protagonist Nory, an African American girl, and other students who have “upside-down magic” and don’t conform are relegated to classes in the basement.


Bayou Magic. Jewell Parker Rhodes. Little, Brown. 2015.
Gr 3-6– When 10-year-old Maddy, an African American girl, visits her grandmother in the Louisiana bayou, she discovers that she has family magic deep inside her that could help to protect her beloved bayou from disaster. Readers looking for stories centered on Black girl magic should pick up this #OwnVoices fantasy.

The Magic Misfits. Neil Patrick Harris. Little, Brown. 2017.
Gr 3-5– Although the magicians in this series deal in stage magic rather than witchcraft, this fun adventure tale brings together a group of oddball kids to catch a town criminal. Main character Carter is white and the supporting cast is racially diverse. Readers who love the camaraderie of the upside-down students will enjoy meeting these magical misfits, too.

Castle Hangnail. Ursula Vernon. Dial. 2015.
Gr 4-6– In this whimsical tale, 12-year-old white witch Molly assumes the role of wicked witch at Castle Hangnail, undertaking a variety of evil tasks in order to preserve the magic in the castle. Hand to readers seeking fantasy with a humorous, wacky tone.

Flunked. Jen Calonita. Sourcebooks. 2015.
Gr 4-7– Twelve-year-old Gilly, who is white, steals to help her family get by, but when she’s caught, she’s sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School, where all her teachers are former villains, including the Big Bad Wolf and Cinderella’s wicked stepmother. This fractured fairy tale is a good choice for readers who like their fantasy on the lighter side.

Abby Johnson is the collection development leader at the Floyd County (IN) Library.

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