NRI Pulse


Book Review: Jupiter Nettle and the Seven Schools of Magic


There is something magical about graphic novels, be it Amar Chitra Katha, the Astrix, or the Archie series  – the visual interpretations evoke an emotional response and connection between the reader and the novel unlike any other medium, illustrating every character, the emotions, and scenes in vivid detail. And when the story is about magical powers and a talking cat to boot, the effect on the reader is, well, quite magical!

In Jupiter Nettle and the Seven Schools of Magic, author Sangu Mandanna brings alive a whimsical tale of twelve-year-old Jupiter Nettle whose dream to join the Seven Schools of Magic comes true only to have her realize it isn’t everything she had hoped for. Masterfully backed by Pablo Ballesteros’ illustrations, a heartwarming saga of friendship, courage, belonging and the importance of discovering and accepting everyone’s unique strengths unfolds in all its mystical glory.

For all of her twelve years, Jupiter has longed to attend the Seven Schools of Magic, preferably as a spellcasting student, but has never been successful. She despairs until an opportunity is presented to her to attend the school of Earth magic by Professor Grim. Delighted, Jupiter packs up and heads to school with her talking cat Lilith. The excitement drains soon, when she realizes that School of Earth Magic is looked down upon by others, it doesn’t involve cool spells, and her teacher, Professor Grim, certainly lives up to his name, offering no specific directions. It does not help that 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. Even though she finds solace in her only friend Pipette and a baby dragon Sizzle who she helps raise, the taunting by other students eventually gets to her and she returns home. Neither her parents nor her trusted companion Lilith are able to convince her to return until an age-old enemy returns to exact revenge on the Seven Schools. When she learns that the White Wizard has returned to take over the school and wreak havoc, she goes back to school on a dragon. 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? Will she finally uncover the magic that’s been within her all along?

In Jupiter’s job of picking up unicorn poop, Mandanna highlights the need for the world to respect and be accepting of the contributions of each member of society, irrespective of the glamour, glitz and fame each person’s identity holds. Kids who feel like they don’t belong can easily relate to and draw inspiration from Jupiter.

Mandanna is said to have been chased down a forest road by an elephant when she was four years old and wrote about it too. There is that lingering sense of fright and adventure that seeps into her narrative that keeps the reader engaged.

The characters in this tale are varied in terms of diversity and range. It is evident that the author makes a notable attempt to be inclusive within all facets of society be it BIPOC, abused animals or the misfits of society. I loved the way Jupiter works with an abused unicorn, Dagger, so that he becomes a productive and helpful member of the school. Balancing the very serious Jupiter is her witty cat which would be a dream come true for any kid, as would raising a sweet baby dragon!

With her characters and scenarios, Mandanna packs in plenty of wonder, heart, action, and magic. Kids, especially elementary and middle graders who are fond of the likes of the Peerless Magic Crew or Elle’s Park Row Magic Academy are sure to find it enticing. There are not as many graphic novels set in these ‘magical’ schools, so for those who love the genre’ or for those are simply intrigued, Jupiter unfolds the true power of magic. It’s time to be bedazzled!

About the Author:Sangu Mandanna was four years old when an elephant chased her down a forest road and she decided to write her first story about it. Seventeen years and many, many manuscripts later, she signed her first book deal. She is the author of the Kiki Kallira series, A Spark of White Fire and its sequels, and more. She lives in Norwich, in the east of England, with her husband and kids.

Illustrator: Pablo Ballesteros: Drawing has been Pablo Ballesteros’s passion since he was a child, and he doesn’t remember himself without a pencil in his hand. Because of his deep love of art, he studied illustration at the Art School of Oviedo then began illustrating children’s books and comic books for local publishers, including Las Fantásticas Hormiguets, Ansu Fati Goleador, and Los Superheroes de los Miércoles. He has also illustrated the graphic novels X-Mice and Jupiter Nettle and the Seven Schools of Magic. He lives in Spain.


Related posts

John Masters and his 'Savage' view of Indian history


1948:Train from Pakistan


The Dark Side of the Moon: Atlanta author’s novel dives deep into human psyche as it addresses social issues


Leave a Comment