What happens when a student at a magic school can’t control her magic? Complete chaos! Just in time for Latinx Heritage Month, ¡MANU! is a new graphic novel book published by Graphix. Read on for a book review of ¡MANU! by Kelly Fernandez!
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¡MANU! Book Review
Based on the Dominican heritage by author Kelly Fernandez, ¡MANU! is about a magical school for girls and the girls that live there. Manuela or Manu is different than the other girls. It’s hard for her to control her magic so often times she makes mistakes and gets the others in trouble- not never on purpose. Manu doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the school. Manu doesn’t have a family outside of the school and so she bonds with her classmate Josefina. One day something very bad happens during a prank and Josefina wishes for Manu’s magic to disappear. Manu attempts a dangerous spell to reverse the curse but eventually unleashes a Demon on her community while the rest of the school bands together to try to make things right.
This graphic novel is centered towards tweens and I think they will relate to Manu’s feelings of discomfort because she is clearly different from the rest of the students at the school. Sprinkled in between short chapters of Manu’s trials and tribulations at La Academia Santa Dominga, there are some nods to Manu’s origins. Her magic is powerful but hard to control, she is quite different from everyone else and she struggles to fit in. Without spoiling Manu’s origins, it’s important to note that this book is based on Dominican folklore. Once I read the afterword, I realized that I had heard of the types of stories the author mentions that inspired the story.
Because this was an advanced reader copy, I was able to view one chapter in color, and it featured muted tones in brown and blue. I liked the scenes of Manu outside, as the school is surrounded by lush plants in all shades of green. It too me a bit to realize that all of the flashbacks in the novel have a back background to make them just slightly different than the school during the present.
¡MANU! has a few Spanish phrases in the book but they are fairly easy to figure out or to google a translation. Overall this was an interesting graphic novel but much too short, it felt like the plot was rushed. That being said I did appreciate the LGBTQ lean and felt that Manu’s acceptance by her peers was an important aspect of the story.