MIDDLE GRADE MAGIC FROM HOLIDAY HOUSE
The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog, (Holiday House Inc., $16.95, ages 8-12) by Frances Sackett, is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.
For children who are interested in reading books about magic but who aren’t ready for the intensity and length of the Harry Potter series, The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog by Frances Sackett might provide a good introduction. At 178 pages and presented in easy-to-understand language, Misadventures is about Peter, a 12-year-old who adopts a magical, talking dog. The Dog, as he is known, is on a quest to rescue his previous owner, a magician who has succumbed to the dark allure of magic, and he needs Peter’s help. Peter, however, has his own agenda in helping The Dog. He will help rescue the magician because he needs the magician’s help to bring his father home from his third tour of duty.
While Peter nibbled on his toast and scrambled eggs, his thoughts went something like this:
1. He understood how to do magic and could do it if he wanted.
2. He had promised Izzy [his younger sister] he wouldn’t do magic.
3. Doing magic might make him angry.
4. If he did magic, maybe he could bring his father home.
Four was the sticking point… But his father—how could Peter not use magic to get his father back?
Misadventures is about more than just a magical quest. It includes elements of family dynamics—Peter’s relationship with his parents and sisters—as well as issues of self-esteem. Peter is an “army brat,” moving from city to city and school to school. He has a hard time making friends and fitting in, and he is not even close to brimming with confidence. He feels the burden of the being the “man of the house” while his father is away, and has a rocky relationship with one of his sisters, Celia. Misadventures ties these very real, everyday issues and the emotional brunt they bear to Peter’s ability to help The Dog, and, ultimately, his own family and himself.
An entertaining and discussion-provoking read, The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog is a solid step into the fantasy genre.