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*Ordinary Magic* by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway - middle grades book review
Ordinary Magic
by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
Ages 8-12 288 pages Bloomsbury USA May 2012 Hardcover    

Twelve-year-old Abby is the youngest child in a warm, wonderful, magical family. As the book begins, Abby is awaiting her “Judging.” This is the day when the leaders of her community will determine her level of magical ability.

When the day finally arrives, none of their spells work on her. Abby does not have any magical ability at all; she is ordinary – an “ord.”

This is terrible news. Ords do not fit into magical society; they are outcasts, people to be pitied. Fortunately, Abby’s sister Alexa, works at a very good school for ords. This is where Abby must go to continue her education.

It turns out that ords can actually be quite valuable in magical society. Spells don’t work on them, so they can often bypass any magical security system.

Unfortunately, this also makes them a prime target for kidnapping. “Adventurers” need ords to help commit their crimes. Sure enough, just before Abby goes to school, an adventurer tries to kidnap her.

School is a well-run, pleasant place. There is so much that ords need to know to cope in a magical world, from menial tasks such as washing their own dishes to self-defense skills to escape danger.

At the town’s fall festival, Abby is kidnapped after trying to save a fellow classmate. After a harrowing ordeal, she finally escapes. Since Alexa is good friends with the king, Abby ends up recovering at the castle. One adventurer is caught, but another is still at large. Abby’s adventure continues when she returns to school and faces another danger involving both a friend and an enemy.

Obviously, Abby’s story is much the reverse of Harry Potter—an ordinary girl in a magical world, a loving family as opposed to a hateful one, magical beings, and a special school where she learns unique skills. Abby is a really nice personality and a lot of spunk. Her family is especially interesting, with the family bakery, a brother who is a writer, and a father who makes magic carpets. The time Abby spends with them doing ordinary things in a magical way sparks the imagination.

Abby has some friendship issues—not a lot, but enough to make the school experience realistic. Overall, Ordinary Magic is an imaginative story, especially good for younger students who are familiar the Harry Potter books or movies and are looking for something similar in concept. Clearly Rubino-Bradway has thought through her magical world and the obstacles that some without magical powers would face.
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  Kristine Wildner/2012 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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