Third Grade Reading Challenge: Upside-Down Magic

It's the last week of our Third Grade Reading Challenge Book Blogs. We hope you had fun, we know we did! This week we're exploring Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins. Right now there are lots of ebook copies of this title available on Libby and Overdrive along with our other Reading Challenge books. Check out the Overdrive Kids page to find them! Want to read it with friends? Join us at 4:00pm during the first two Mondays in January in the Awesome Reading Room (ARR)!

Where do the authors live? Sarah Mlynowski currently lives in New York City, and so does Emily Jenkins! Meanwhile, Lauren Myracle lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you like about the book? What did you NOT like? 
  2. Why does Nory feel like she doesn’t fit in with her family? Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in with your family? Why or why not? 
  3. Have you ever not done well on a test or task? How did you feel? Did you try again? If so, what did you do to get a better outcome? 
  4. Of all of the quirky magic types in Nory’s class, which is the quirkiest? Which magic type would you like to have? Which would you NOT like to have? 
  5. Why is it important for the students with upside-down magic to understand and not just control their feelings? 
  6. What does this suggest to you about understanding your own feelings?  
  7. When Aunt Margo tells Nory and Elliott to be who they are and not try to be something they aren’t, do you think that is good advice?  
  8. Have you ever tried to be something that you are not? If so, were you able to do it? 
  9. The Sparkies were not nice to Elliott. So why did he go back to them after passing his test? 
  10. How did Nory’s feelings about her upside-down magic change by the end of the book? How did her father’s and siblings’ feelings change? 
  11. Who do you think would enjoy reading this book? 


  • Nory often turns into a Bitten (Bat + Kitten). What combo animal can you create? Need inspiration?  Write the names of different animals on slips of paper. Then pick two and draw what that animal would look like. Don’t forget to give it a name! 
    Bonus points: how would your combo-animal act? If you’re not quite sure, use your school or local library’s resources to research what habits your animals have and what they like and dislike.
  • Write down 2-3 types of magic (or more). Now think about what an upside-down version of each type of magic would be. Draw a picture or write a brief story that talks about both “right-side up” and “upside-down” magic types. 
  • Do you have a secret talent? Make a brief video or show your teammates during one of your practices! 
  • Try being upside-down to see if this helps you think! If you’re brave (and are in a safe space) then try a handstand. Otherwise, lie on your bed or couch and hang your head off of the end of it. Can you think more clearly? Do things look different when you’re upside-down? Can you read upside-down? 

If you liked Upside-Down Magic, you might like to read these, too:

Bayou Magic : Unlike Nory, 10-year-old Maddy discovers she is the only one of her siblings who carries on her grandmother’s magical legacy when she visits her grandma in Louisiana.

Dragons and Marshmallows : Unlike most people, Zoe can see magical creatures. But can she figure out how to care for them while her mother is away?

Dragonbreath : Danny Dragonbreath is a goofy dragon who gets into trouble in spite of himself. 

A Snicker of Magic : Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place where people could sing up thunderstorms, see words and dance up sun flowers. Then the magic went away. Can 12-year-old Felicity bring back the magic to Midnight Gulch? 

Fortunately, the Milk : If you like your magic with a dollop of unbelievability, this one is for you. 

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