Clara Poole and the Wrong Way Up

Clara Poole and the Wrong Way Up
Age Range
Release Date
July 09, 2024
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Fresh off winning WOOBA’s One-Hundredth Air Race, Clara Poole should be flying high, but she’s feeling more uncertain than ever. After a summer of negative publicity, she arrives at Air Academy unsure if she even deserves to be there, to train as an aeronaut alongside her new friends . . . only to discover that there are several conditions to her acceptance.

But that becomes the least of her problems when a series of strange accidents throw her and her friends’ safety into question. Circumstances shift from bad to worse when the school’s headmaster goes missing, hurling the academy into disarray and under the iron-grip control of Assistant Head of School, Cyprian Hunt. Friends become enemies, and enemies friends as Clara tries to keep herself out of trouble. But trouble may the one thing she can’t avoid.

With humor, heart, and more death-defying feats that you can imagine, Clara Poole and the Wrong Way Up is a stunning second novel that explores how the journey to get what you want is perhaps more important than the goal itself.

Editor review

1 review
Drama high in the sky
Overall rating
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What worked:
There are immediate changes and strange occurrences to signal a mystery is brewing. The new students arriving at the Air Academy discover they haven’t been accepted yet and Clara is informed she’s only an alternate. She won’t be a student unless someone else drops out. Students and teachers have been seriously injured due to broken bridges and faulty equipment found in the airborne school. The headmaster’s opening address to students is confusing as he’s forgetful and loses his train of thought. He also suffers from sleep-flying and must be retrieved when he drifts off into the sky. Clara finds cryptic messages and clues so readers will try to figure out what’s happening behind the scenes. A surprising twist awaits when the plot reaches its climax.
As with the previous book, the author includes many characters to either act as Clara’s friends or fill the role of antagonists. Short, little Hatsu has been looking forward to being Clara’s roommate since last year’s great balloon race which proves she’s Clara’s most enthusiastic supporter. Until she’s not. Ophelia still detests Clara although Clara begins to view the girl differently after overhearing a conversation. Their relationship changes. Clara and the academy’s biggest problem might be the assistant headmaster. He divides the new recruits into two groups and the Peregrines are clearly the favored team. He also treats Clara with disdain and puts her in unwinnable situations. A former enemy becomes an ally but Clara’s team is dysfunctional with constant internal drama.
A highlight of the book is how the cast of characters changes as the plot moves along. Students from the past have been injured or traumatized enough to leave the academy and that trend continues. Readers won’t always know if characters are gone for good or if they’ll eventually turn up again. A teacher, assumed to be dead, returns unexpectedly and becomes a mentor to Clara. She raises the concept of gender bias and readers are frequently made aware of her conflicted past with the acting headmaster. The actual headmaster finally disappears from the academy but Clara is almost certain it isn’t an accident. The popular safety director vanishes with him and readers will presume they may be gone forever. A fellow student named Binder loves to joke around and create havoc so he keeps everyone on their toes.
What didn’t work as well:
The main conflict is difficult to identify as the characters are worried about being accepted to the academy when they’re not clashing with each other. The bigger issue is what’s happening behind the scenes and the author provides red herrings, misdirection, and vague observations. The clues Clara finds are often found by accident and they’re then put on the back burner due to some other problem.
The final verdict:
This book is quite different from the previous one as it’s a new, exciting adventure in the skies. Clara encounters animosity, doubt, and jealousy from other characters but readers will admire her efforts to do the right thing. I highly recommend you give this book a shot and I look forward to its sequel.
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