Wednesday, July 24, 2013

ARC Review: The Misadventures of the Magician's Dog by Frances Sackett

The Misadventures of the Magician's Dog
Author: Frances Sackett
Publication: Holiday House (August 1, 2013)

Description: Peter Lubinsky doesn't even like dogs and can't understand why he asked for one for his birthday. But it turns out that this pet, whom Peter calls The Dog, can talk and do magic—and he needs Peter's help. In return, The Dog promises to teach Peter conjuring and to help him bring his father home from the Middle East, where he is deployed with the air force. Soon Peter finds himself flying through the air on a mission to rescue The Dog's master. But as Peter's magical powers grow, he finds himself filled with a dark anger.

A bedroom full of dinosaur fossils, a waiter who was formerly a mouse, and an epic battle of magician's make for a thrilling read. This imaginative middle-grade fantasy is about the power of enchantment and love.

My Thoughts: This story was entertaining, engaging, and thought provoking. Peter Lubinsky is a pretty ordinary twelve-year-old. He prefers reading and chess to action and adventure. He's quiet and rather shy. He has two younger sisters - Celia and Izzy. He also has a dad who flies fighter jets and who has been deployed. Peter is an Air Force brat. He knows that all dads who are deployed don't come home. He is bottling up his worry, fear, and anger. 

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.

Favorite Quote:
The first thing The Dog did was pee on the green. His urine ran down the flag and into the hole.

"Gross," said Peter.

"It's not gross," said The Dog. "It's friendly. Like leaving a note when you visit a friend who's not home. It's letting them know I was here."

"Pee is not the same as a note," said Peter.

"It is if you're a dog," said The Dog.
I received the ARC for review at ALA. You can buy your copy here.

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