Monday, July 29, 2013

MMGM-- Dorko the Magnificent

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!


  1. Interesting book...but I am glad you shared your reservations, I can't imagine any of my sixth graders picking this out to read. Definitely elementary school.

  2. Anonymous9:13 AM EDT

    I hadn't heard of this one--thanks for the review. Many of my students are living in multi-generational homes, so this sounds like a book many of them will relate to. Sounds like it may pair well with Wendy Shang's The Great Wall of Lucy Wu with the grandmother who moves in with the family.

  3. Anonymous9:25 AM EDT

    Yep. This sounds like one that would appeal to my students...and me, looking forward to reading and sharing it. Thanks!

  4. Looks like a book some of my 5th graders might enjoy. Thanks!

  5. I often find this to be a problem - the book has middle school students as the leads, but "reads" elementary... so I worry about the audience for the title.

  6. Anonymous3:59 PM EDT

    I like magic! I think I would LOVE this book! :D

  7. Anonymous5:26 PM EDT

    I may have to try this one. I like the sound of the grandma character helping him with his magic.

  8. Some of my magic lovers would likely get a kick out of this one. Thanks!

  9. Love learning about new middle grade books! I actually can think of a student who will love Dorko- will have to share it with him.

    Happy reading this week :)

  10. Anonymous12:26 AM EDT

    Ha-ha-ha! I love the "disaster plan for his rabbit" reference. I was intrigued and shocked by that story, too. I can see what you mean about audience. To me, it looks like something I could get some of my 6th graders to read, but probably not my 8th graders....

  11. Hi there Miss Yingling, sounds like a cute book - thanks for sharing some of your thoughts about it as well. Magic does seem to be a tad outdated among a lot of middle graders now, I think. :(

  12. Anonymous5:30 PM EDT

    It's interesting how even though a book is good who the intended audience is. While I'm always saying how great it is there's a book for everyone, it seems like some books are to targeted to a certain small demographic to actually be found by them.