Monday, September 03, 2012

Ordinary Magic by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

Suppose everyone has magic. It is an innate talent that everyone uses for ordinary day-to-day life. It is so normal that routine actions—like turning on water for a shower, flushing, turning on lights, and preparing food are “automated” with spells.

Then suppose, when you are tested at age twelve to assess your level of magic, you test “ord”—ordinary. No magic at all. Shunned, unable to use any appliances of daily life. Not even able to cross a street safely, since drivers don’t have to look out for people whose magic takes them out of harm’s way. “There’s only one thing you can do with an ord. Get rid of it.”

Abby Hale tests ord, even though her brothers and sister tested at high levels. BUT Abby’s family is unusual and still loves her. Instead of abandoning her (as some do), or selling her (as do others), they decide to send her to a rare and special school for “ordinaries.” Here students continue their regular schooling (kids don’t learn or use magic until their judging at age twelve) and also learn useful things: how to cook and clean and use appliances without magic. And how to survive in a world of magic: useful things, like martial arts.

These children need to know how to defend themselves for, though shunned, they are also valuable, so valuable that if their families don’t sell them, they may be kidnapped! Ords make really good thieves. In a world where doors and vaults are locked with magic wards, people with no magic can walk right in, take anything, and leave without sounding alarms. Even though Abby has her family’s protection, there are several attempts to kidnap Abby before she even gets to the new school.

Ordinary Magic is definitely a fun fantasy for youth that takes place in a boarding school. Abby’s family is fascinating, eccentric, and supportive. Look for Ordinary Magic at your library.


Anonymous said...

I have been talking up Ordinary Magic to everyone especially middle school teachers and librarians. It is a fun story full of the best characters this side of Harry Potter but tucked into the adventure is a lesson about what it means to be the odd one out, the kid who may be picked on or bullied or shunned. By being an Ordinary Abby is a character that kids can relate to. Something rally empowering about this book that I liked.

Traci D.

Carolyn said...

I just finished it and it needs a sequel. Too much is left unresolved otherwise. But it's a very well written and original premise that speaks to the issue of bullying without being obvious.