Graphix/Scholastic/. Nov. 2021. 192p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781338264197.
Gr 4-7–Was she abandoned on a doorstep by an ogre? Or maybe she was raised by wolves in the mountains. Perhaps one day the ground opened up and she emerged—almost everyone at La Academia de Santa Dominga, a school for girls with magic abilities, wonders about Manu’s origins. Her magic is far more powerful than that of the other students, and that, combined with her propensity for mischief, lands her in trouble with the Catholic nuns who run the school. When Manu’s magic starts malfunctioning, Sister Noela wonders if the saints are intervening to prevent the wild child from using her powers. Eager to prove she isn’t the sinister creature that so many believe her to be, Manu turns to an unorthodox solution that may have disastrous consequences. While Manu may be an outcast, she has firm friends; the obedient, studious Josefina and Mother Dolores, the nun who brought her to the school, stick by her despite her missteps, and Fernández conveys these relationships with warmth and tenderness—and hints that there might be more than friendship between Manu and Josefina will delight readers. Fernández’s exuberant, vibrant cartoons depict a lush island setting and humorously convey the chaos Manu wreaks; as the narrative turns more serious, the palette shifts appropriately. The tale is set in the Dominican Republic; characters are Latinx and frequently mix in Spanish phrases.
VERDICT Though the emphasis on magic will draw in fantasy fans, this poignant graphic novel will resonate with any reader seeking a tale of friendship conquering all.

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