cover image Marsha Is Magnetic

Marsha Is Magnetic

Beth Ferry, illus. by Lorena Alvarez. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-544-73584-2

Marsha is a red-haired scientist-in-training whose mother is planning a birthday party for her. Who to invite? Christa, a popular kid in the girl’s inclusively portrayed class, has many friends. When Marsha’s parents speculate it’s because she has “a magnetic personality,” literal-minded Marsha puts this intelligence to work, producing a super-magnetic helmet that has attractive power. At school, the helmet holds a kid captive long enough for Marsha to say “Cupcakes at my house this weekend?” Manic action ensues as more kids stick to the girl’s helmet. Then the helmet opens a locked gym door, and Marsha becomes a local hero. Lifting up the theme of promoting STEM for girls, Ferry (Swashby and the Sea) builds the story around the principles of scientific research (“Formulate a hypothesis. Test the hypothesis. Analyze data. Make a conclusion”). Crisp-edged spreads in deep, brilliant hues by Alvarez (The Magical Yet) contribute energy and verve. Kids who struggle to navigate school social pressures will recognize themselves in Marsha’s story, and they’ll be drawn to her determination to make friends without squelching her own distinctive personality. Ages 4–7. Author’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Anne Moore Armstrong, the Bright Agency. [em](Jan.) [/em]