Beaty, Andrea. Dorko the Magnificent
1 April 2013, Amulet Books
Robbie Darko has always been interested in magic tricks, even though they constantly get him in trouble at school--he really did think he had that trick with the rabbit down. How was he to know that Houdi would escape and eat everyone's lunches? He really wants to go out of Hobson Elementary with a fantastic performance in the school talent show, but he has a lot of things working against him. His past problems have irritated some of the other students and teachers, and he has to deal with Grandma Melvyn moving in to his room, so he has to share with a younger brother. Grandma Melvyn (really a great aunt) needs knee surgery, so is living with Robbie's family for a little bit for help until she can get that scheduled. At first Robbie doesn't like her, but it turns out that she performed as part of a magic act, and is soon teaching Robbie some great tricks-- after he practices a LOT. He starts to put together an act, and enlists his friend Cat as an assistant. Things are going well until he accidentally crosses Grandma Melvin. Can Robbie pull everything together in time for the show, and can he make things right with Grandma?
Strengths: Grandma Melvyn is one of the best older characters I've encountered in a while. She's tricky and fiesty and multidimensional. Not only do students not meet many actual older adults, I don't think they meet many fictional ones, either. This had a lot of good information on magic acts as well, some school drama, and engaging characters.
Weaknesses: A little unsure on the audience for this. I can't think of any middle school students who have an interest in magic, although I would definitely purchase for an elementary school. Also, it is unclear whether Robbie has a Disaster plan for his rabbit.
For a cute picture of a dog ruminating upon this title, head over to Binky's Book Club, where "Binky and her friends sit in the vicinity of books." Sylvie approves.
No Nonfiction Monday post here-- I've been doing more home repairs than reading lately. I don't feel too bad, because there wasn't a host listed for today when I checked on 7/22.
This makes me feel like so much less of a slacker!
Do head over to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for a variety of Middle Grade Reviews as well as to Teach Mentor Texts where they are always on top of hosting It's Monday! What Are You Reading!