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The Misadventures of the Magician's Dog Kindle Edition
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Now I'm a little biased because the author is a friend, so I gave the book to my 10-year-old son and he loves it as well.
If you have a school-aged child, this is a great book for them.
Oh, and Peter is afraid of dogs. So, absolutely nothing surprises him more than hearing his mouth say that he wants a dog for his birthday. A trip to the shelter results in them bringing home The Dog. The Dog is no ordinary dog. He can talk and he tells Peter that he was a magician's assistant. He tells Peter that he can be a magician too.
The Dog wants Peter to rescue his magician who has been turned into a rock. Peter would like to be a magician so that he could bring his dad home. But things aren't that easy. In order to do magic, Peter has to become angry and has to let the anger change him and take over his life. The Dog says that is the cost of doing magic. The Dog says that his boy was once a nice kid but becoming a magician turned him into someone who does nasty things just because he can.
Peter doesn't know if the benefits of becoming a magician would be worth what it would cost him. He doesn't want to be angry all the time and he certainly doesn't want to hurt people. But he really wants his dad back home with the family. It takes some scary things, like dinosaurs coming to life and threatening his sisters, before Peter finds a way to do the right thing.
I really liked this story. I thought it had enough adventure and excitement to encourage middle graders to read it and I thought it had a really good message too. I will be buying this one for my elementary media center this fall. Sackett is a debut author to watch.
Peter is a relatable and imperfect protagonist, "ordinarily good," and his sisters Celia and Izzy make great sidekicks. Their dynamic as a family, especially one whose dad is far away and whose mom is busy working, keeps this story fun and modern, as well as emotional but without being too precious. They fight and make up and they judge each other as siblings do, but at the end of the day (magic is best done under cover of darkness, or people will ask questions!) they are family and they stick together. Sackett balances their comic sibling antics with Peter's introspection as he tries to determine what is right and what is wrong, in the middle of feeling shut out, left behind, and just plain wrong.
The Dog is a new member of the family and he's quite enigmatic. As he reveals more about what he can do and why it is possible for Peter to do magic, Peter discovers things about himself--and he doesn't like some of these revelations. Why was he so mean to his dad the morning he left for his deployment? Why do his daily emails make him feel awkward and useless? Why did dad have to go in the first place, and shouldn't he work hard to learn magic to bring him back? Throughout the book, he struggles with figuring out what is the right thing to do, but whereas ordinary good decisions seem pretty obvious, extraordinary ones are a little harder to discern.
Eventually, the kids discover the limits and consequences of using magic. They discover a creepy house filled with enchanted servants and--gulp!--dinosaurs. Their mission is to save the magician from himself, but who will save them? You'll have to read it to find out. The Misadventures of the Magician's Dog uses humor, flights of fancy, and family values to tell a story that is both insightful and entertaining. For an excerpt, visit the publisher's website. (Full disclosure--I'm the author's web designer. Cross-posted at Read Now Sleep Later)
There were several times that we couldn't stop after just one chapter & had to extend bedtime a bit to find out what happened. In fact, we just read the last three chapters all at once!
My son immediately asked me if there is a second book so we can find out what happens to Peter and his family. The only flaw with this book is that it has no sequel!