October 2011

A family of all shapes and sizes

By Patricia MacLachlan
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Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Medalist for Sarah, Plain and Tall, delivers another heartfelt story of family and home in Waiting for the Magic. Just as William wonders who his fifth grade teacher will be when school starts, his professor father leaves home—again. In his absence, his mother decides that William and his little sister, Elinor, need a dog. Unable to decide which dog meets their needs, they return with four dogs of varying sizes and temperaments and a cat to boot.

The dogs’ arrival sparks some magic immediately when four-year-old Elinor and her grandparents start chatting with the canine newcomers. William, on the other hand, has never even thought about magic and certainly doesn’t believe in it. Although his grandmother suggests that he’s not young enough or old enough or brave enough to believe, he still resists the possibility that conversations are occurring between people and dogs.

William is quiet and steady, and when he discovers that his mother is expecting a baby, he musters the courage, with the help of his new dogs, to tell Mama that Papa should know about the situation. In light of his bravery, William begins to hear the dogs speak. But can he also find the courage to forgive when his father comes back? MacLachlan handles this scary and difficult parental separation with sensitivity, while Amy June Bates’ charming charcoal sketches and the dogs’ whimsical yet wise speech helps to lighten the mood.

Perhaps there’s more to magic than talking dogs, though. In distinct ways, the family members learn that real magic can be found at home among seemingly everyday events. Readers, who can’t help but be touched by this affirming story, will find themselves looking for magic in their own lives. MacLachlan has another classic in the making.

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Waiting for the Magic

Waiting for the Magic

By Patricia MacLachlan
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9781416927457

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