What wold you do if you discovered you had a magical power? What if it was completely and utterly useless?
Abby Carnelia is an average sixth grader. She gets along okay with her parents, does pretty well in school, and has an annoying littler brother. And then, her ordinary life turns extraordinary when she happens to tug on her earlobes while standing in front of a hard-boiled egg.
That’s the day Abby discovers there’s something very special about her after all: She has a magical power, and there are some people who will do anything to find out where it came from.
4/5 stars, Middle Grade, Magic, and Present Day
I’ve been reading Abby Carnelia’s One and Only Magic Power out loud to my two younger sisters, ages seven and eight. I have never read that much out loud before, and I think it was really good practice because I came to a point where I didn’t think about each word before I said it. The words just started to flow, as if I had it memorized. Okay, not quite, but the process became much easier after reading for a bit. I think this was aided by the writing style. Several times while reading I thought, wow, this is easy to read because the writing style is good. Sometimes, there would be sentences worded weird ways, I think to grammatically include a lot of information, and I got caught on them several times, trying to read it and failing, trying a second time and also failing, then having to pause, read it silently, and then read it aloud to my little sisters. These didn’t come along that often though.
The concept of this book is that kids have random, pointless powers, which they can only discover by chance – when they get all the pieces to the puzzle (the trigger) exactly right. For Abby, she happened to tug on her ears while a hard boiled egg was in front of her, causing it to spin. For another girl, Eliza, she had to think of buffalos wearing diapers and walking backwards. We all have some power within us, and we just have to be under the exact circumstances to find it.
I was pleasantly surprised with the originality of this book. It’s one of those ideas that you are surprised hasn’t been done before. Kids with magic and a pharmaceutical company using magic camps as a front and recruitment process to find these kids and try to profit off their magic?
I thought this was pretty good for a middle grade book. Compelling characters, although the main character, Abby, didn’t hold me as well as the side characters. Her friends Ben, Ricky, and Eliza made much more of an impact on me, which means the side characters are strong. I thought Abby could have been stronger though. We were looking at things from her perspective, but other than that, she didn’t seem like anything more than a means to an end. She didn’t have much personality, but every single person around her did.
I asked my little sisters after finishing the book what they would rate it, considering they are the intended audience of the book. The older, Harlyn, told me she would give it four out of five stars. The younger, Evelyn, told me two stars, but I’m not sure if her vote really counts, seeing as she seemed to have a grudge against reading in general rather than this one particular book. One time while I was reading, they found one of those movie “Action!” clapper things. They would clap it and tell me to stop reading, then say something like, “Louder!” or, “More emotion!” They got a kick out of that. Towards the end of the book, the Evelyn said, “Instead of saying Abby, say it’s me.” And then every Abby Carnelia was an Evie Kausen. Of course I’d get annoyed at times with them screaming at me to add always more expression, or laughing so hard they could in no possible way hear what I was saying, but we got to spend time together and I at least got one of them to enjoy a book. I really want them to enjoy reading so I can share with them all the books I loved as a kid. Percy Jackson. Spiderwick. Narnia. The Dark is Rising. Fablehaven. Harry Potter. The Giver. But even I, someone so into books that I started a blog about them, didn’t read when I was their age.
Overall, I thought this was one of the better middle grade books. It still managed to have an original concept even with so many books out there, great writing, and interesting side characters. It kept a good pace and left enough of a mystery around the plot that even I, an adult, didn’t know what would happen in the end. With a message like everyone is special, I certainly would be happy to share this with children.