Saturday, June 22, 2024

Jupiter Nettle and the Seven Schools of Magic

Mandanna, Sangu and Ballesteros, Pablo (illus.) 
Jupiter Nettle and the Seven Schools of Magic
June 11, 2024 by Viking Books for Young Readers
E ARC Provided by Edelweiss Plus

In this colorful graphic novel, Jupiter desperately wants to attend the Seven Schools of Magic, preferably as a spellcasting student, but can't manage to get in. She despairs until an opportunity is presented to her to attend the school of Earth magic by Professor Grim. He hasn't had any students for years, because no one regards his area as "real magic". Jupiter packs up and heads to school with her talking cat Lilith, but soon experiences negativity about her field from other students. It doesn't help that Prof. Grim doesn't give her much direction, the work is hard and dirty, and she is derided by Davey and other students, who claim that she is only there supporting the magic that others do by picking up unicorn poop and growing plants for spells. She does make a friend in Pipette after helping her get items for her potions, and helps raise a small dragon, Sizzle. When the teasing escalates, Jupiter gives up and goes home, and neither Lilith not her parents are able to convince her to return. When she gets a communication that the White Wizard has returned and plans to take over the school and cause harm, she goes back to school on a dragon. The ghost population of the school tells her what is going on, and that her nemesis Davey was the one who removed the wards from the school, letting evil in. The students and professors have all been captured and are being held in the forest by the White Wizard's army of animated puppets. Luckily, Pipette missed breakfast, and is willing to help her friend. Will Jupiter's Earth magic be strong enough to save the day?
Strengths: The world needs people to pick up unicorn poop. This is my main take away, and may well become my mantra. Just because a job isn't glamorous doesn't mean it has no value. Jupiter is an engaging character who will appeal to children who feel that they are not a good fit for their own world. She is good at what she does; she works with an abused unicorn, Dagger, so that he becomes a productive and helpful member of the school, she raises Sizzle well, and she is a tireless worker who provides real value to her school. We have tantalizing glimpses of the other magic in the Seven Schools, and further adventures could cover those more fully. I imagine that everyone will want to work with Jupiter now! Lilith was a fun, snarky familiar; I would imagine most of my students would love to have their cats talk to them, as well as be able to raise their own dragon, like in Durst's Spark. This will be a very popular graphic novel with fantasy fans in elementary and middle schools.
Weaknesses: Young readers will not have read as many fantasy books as I have, so won't mind yet another story where a misfit student realizes the value of her own magic after being bullied by her peers and saves the world from devastation, but I'd like to see something different for a change. Ooh. The misfit student could turn evil and take over the school and bend everyone to her will. That would be new. (I'm a little vindictive, I guess!)
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who like magical academy stories like Sanders' Keynan Masters and the Peerless Magic Crew, Elle's Park Row Magic Academy, or Okogwu's Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun. There are not as many graphic novels set in these schools so fans of Fern├índez's ¡¡Manu!! and Escabasse's Witches of Brooklyn will be especially pleased to see this one.

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good read! I hadn't heard of it before. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I don't usually read graphic novels but would like to check out more. I hope my library gets this one. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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