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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain.
Be yourself. Speak up. Stand up for your friends. Find your community. Embrace your differences. Face what needs to be faced and don't avoid it.
Positive Role Models
Ella stands up to bullying kids and defends her friends. She doesn't back down from those who bully and stares back when they stare. She excels in her studies, even though many believe she doesn't belong at the Institute.
Characters represent a variety of cultures, skin tones, gender identities, sexual orientations, and religious affiliations. Portrayals of characters are respectfully done with no stereotypical depictions.
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Violence & Scariness
Some of Ella's classmates are prejudiced against her because she's a conjuror. They are mean to her, talk about her. Someone sends her anonymous hateful messages. Someone also messes up her and her roommates' room. A character recalls the murder that landed her in prison for life. Mainly fantasy violence, but mention of bones snapping and a lot of spilled blood.
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Some of Ella's classmates talk meanly about her and her friend. They comment on the friend's clothes, how Ella has "bad light" and that conjurors are "bad and unnatural." They're prejudiced against conjurors, which causes them to disrespect her.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Marvellers, by Dhonielle Clayton, is about 11-year-old Ella Durand, the first conjuror to attend the Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors. As the she's the first conjuror, many of her classmates are prejudiced against her and don't understand how conjure works. They say mean things about her and her roommate. This unfortunately escalates to someone trashing their room and sending Ella anonymous mean messages. A character who was a former student of the Institute didn't fit into the Marvel classification system. She went on to murder her circus rival. The murder is briefly described, and though it mainly involves fantasy violence, it does mention bones snapping and a lot of blood.
Is It Any Good?
This imaginative and unique read is perfect for fantasy lovers. Readers of The Marvellers will find themselves immersed in the novel's world and all of the locations in which the story takes place. Though the school sorting system has been done in various iterations, Clayton gives a unique spin to it, creating a system that's complex and refreshingly new. Marvellers from all over the world attend the Institute, and there are characters representing a multitude of ethnicities, cultures, and gender identities. These brief references are respectfully done with no stereotypical depictions.
The 400+ pages might seem intimidating to some readers, but it's a worthwhile read. As an added bonus, the novel features many popular YA and middle grade authors' names as cameos. Readers will be elated to have their favorite authors pop up as Institute professors or other characters.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.