Review Detail

Realistic bullying with fantasy twist
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Nadia and her best friend Adam are excited about starting 6th grade. After spending the summer with cousins in Egypt, Nadia is all set to up her fashion game, and she's confident in her academic abilities, since she is a whiz at trivia. Her new teacher, Ms. Arena, seems nice, and her other friends Vikram, Chloe, and Sarah are all in her class. They are also academically inclined, and super excited about a project the class is doing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the The Museum of American History. The theme is "What Makes America, America", and Nadia wants the project to be about immigrants. Her friends, who have fairly diverse backgrounds, agree. Jason, a new boy with whom Adam has become friendly, has been delivering digs about Nadia's Egyptian heritage. He has made fun of her food, her clothing, and said some pretty nasty things that teachers haven't caught. Adam values the friendship because he wants to learn more about sports so that he can talk to his stepfather about them, so he doesn't stick up for Nadia. However, Nadia does get support from an unexpected source: she has an antique hippopotamus necklace that she bought in Egypt, and which is the home to an ancient teacher, Titi, who angered the wrong royal magician! He comes to life on the pages of a comic book Nadia has brought home for Adam, and gives her a lot of good advice on her project as well as how to handle Jason. As work on the projects continues, there are some tense moments, especially when Nadia's group project is damaged at the museum workspace. Will Nadia be able to get the project done, handle Jason, and restore her friendship with Adam?
Good Points
I am not usually a fan of books about bullying, because they are not realistically done. Jason is a great example of what a real bully looks like: generally likable, not suspicious looking to teachers, but underhandedly mean for no particularly good reason. I loved that Nadia stood up to him, and that most of her friends did as well. Adam's reasons for going along with him were also absolutely spot on for a 6th grader. It was also nice that Jason changed his ways when Nadia made him understand more about the situation of descendants of immigrants... which is everyone who doesn't have a Native American background! The school project was a great way to showcase these topics. The inclusion of a bit of history about the Egyptian Spring (2011, when Nadia was a baby!) was also interesting.

Our 6th grade social studies curriculum includes Ancient Egypt, so this is great for my students who really, really like that topic, since there are a lot of elements of that culture as well as more modern Egyptian culture.

Like Mendez's On These Magic Shores or Arnold's The Year I Flew Away, this combines magic components with more serious social issues. The inclusion of cartoon panels makes this a lot of fun, and will appeal to readers who enjoy graphic novels.
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