Dhonielle Clayton The Marvellers: Middle-Grade Debut Novel in which Readers from All Backgrounds Will See Themselves
Dhonielle Clayton, the prolific author has published Shattered Midnight and The Rumor Game (also a Netflix original series), has released her middle-grade debut novel, The Marvellers. The fantasy adventure set in a magic school that celebrates cultural traditions from around the world.
Intricately weaving the sensitive topics of racial bias and “otherness” into a relatable fantasy world of wonder and whimsical magic, Dhonielle has made it her mission to help diversity literature for middle school and YA readers while helping them explore the various facets of the development of their emotional health.
“I wanted to create a place where all people from around the world could come together and share what’s marvelous about their culture and its magical traditions,” said Dhonielle. “[My intention for writing] The Marvellers was to create a “magical boarding school” that even Ruby Bridges herself would feel accepted and comfortable attending.”
Eleven-year-old Ella is the first Conjuror to attend the Arcanum Training Institute, a magic school in the clouds where Marvellers from around the world practice their cultural arts, like brewing Indian spice elixirs and bartering with pesky Irish pixies. Despite her excitement, Ella discovers that being the first isn’t easy, and not all Marvellers are welcoming of Conjurors. But eventually, she finds friendly faces in potions teacher, Masterji Thakur, and fellow misfits Brigit and Jason.
When a dangerous criminal known as the Ace of Anarchy escapes prison, supposedly with the aid of a Conjuror, Ella becomes the target of suspicion. Worse, Masterji Thakur never returns from a research trip. With her friend’s help, Ella must clear her family’s name and track down her mentor before it’s too late.
The novel received unparalleled praise from bestselling author Rick Riordan, who said, “The Marvellers deserves the highest compliment I can give a book: I want to live in this world.”
In our continuing series of the nurturing kids’ emotional health and kids’ mental health through reading, especially when it comes to inclusivity and representation, I had the pleasure of speaking with NY Times bestselling Young Adult author Dhonielle Clayton to discuss her groundbreaking debut novel for middle schoolers, The Marvellers. The next evolution of the magical school genre in which readers from all backgrounds will see themselves.
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Dhonielle Clayton spent most of her childhood under her grandmother’s table with a stack of books. She hails from the Washington, D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Belles series, Shattered Midnight, co-author of Blackout, and the co-author of The Rumor Game and the Tiny Pretty Things duology, a Netflix original series.
Clayton taught secondary school for several years and is a former elementary and middle school librarian. She is COO of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books, and President of Cake Creative, an IP story kitchen dedicated to diverse books for all ages. She’s an avid traveler, and always on the hunt for magic and mischief. You can find her across social media at @brownbookworm.