From School Library Journal
Grade 2-3–Third-grader Max is adjusting to his parents' divorce, which includes a new school and a new house without his dad (although the man has never been emotionally present). The boy relies on King, a regal and loyal, but imaginary, dog, to deal with these challenges. In fact, Max has created an entire fantasy existence for himself that he calls Adventure Time. In it, he performs heroic feats of daring with King by his side, thereby escaping the realities that trouble him. On one of these jaunts, the owner of a nifty little shop grants Max a wish that crosses over into the real world with consequences from which the dreamer learns and grows. Perhaps the most important change is Max's newfound willingness to accept the unpredictability and messiness of life, a change that is presented in a thoughtful twist in the evolution of his relationship with King. The shopkeeper, too, is an interesting manifestation of the troubled youngster's mental process of working out his conflicts. Tolan's vivid, clean writing is deceptively uncomplicated and the many issues touched upon are handled well. This book will resonate with kids while providing parents a great jumping-off point for conversations about how to overcome some of life's obstacles. –Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR
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Bullied at his new school, Max takes refuge in daydreams featuring himself and King, a large, brave, devoted (and fictional) dog. When the mysterious shopkeeper at Wishworks Inc. offers Max a wish, he asks for “a real, live dog.” Soon his mother gives him a dog so small and ugly that Max calls him Ratty. Max’s second wish, for Ratty to go away, is quickly granted when the dog disappears. Max’s third wish takes a little more time and thought. As one might expect, Max learns to be careful what he wishes for, but he also becomes a bit more reflective in general about himself and other people. Max’s friendship with a classmate develops more slowly and realistically than in some comparable chapter books; meanwhile, engaging scenes and plot twists keep the story moving along in interesting directions. The many illustrations, though not seen in final form, have plenty of visual appeal. A lively, accessible chapter book. Grades 3-5. --Carolyn Phelan