What You Need to Know:|
• Four dogs and a cat bring wisdom and comfort to a family going through a difficult time.
• The main character is a boy who will soon be entering fifth grade.
• The dad leaves home with little explanation and the family is left behind trying to figure out how to cope without him.
• There are some challenging words like earnest and philosophical.
• Patricia MacLachlan is the Newbery Award winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall.
It's rare to find a book at this reading level that explores a somewhat difficult subject matter with such delicacy. Waiting for the Magic does just that and more. It delivers the perfect blend of warmth, emotion and humor. The characters, both young and old, are interesting and well-developed. Readers will easily connect with them, sympathize with them, and cheer for them. This unique book is a must read!
The story is told in the first person, from the perspective of young William. One summer morning after fourth grade, his father, who is a teacher and a writer, walks out without explanation and doesn't return, or even call. William, his little sister, and his mother are all distraught, but each deals with their feelings in different ways. His mom refers to his dad as stupid and an idiot, however she later acknowledges that those are bad words to use. She decides that a dog will make things better for them, but instead of one new puppy, they come home from the shelter with four dogs and one cat. When discussing the new additions with his friend Max, William offers "She may be insane" as an explanation for why any mother would do such a crazy thing. It takes some time, but they begin to adjust to their new situation.
When William's father unexpectedly returns home, there are new feelings like forgiveness, fear, and bravery to experience and manage. William is not just worried about his dad, but is also concerned about the new baby that his mom is expecting any day. Will his mom be OK? Will his dad stay this time? With the help of their new pets, their grandparents and some close friends, the family pulls themselves together. It doesn't hurt that their new pets happen to speak - at least to those young, old or brave enough to hear them. These dogs are really quite special. They're wise, protective and sometimes funny. They know that "Writing is not magic. Only hard work." and they teach that concept to William's dad. They offer inspiration and help everyone in the family to heal. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the resolution will leave readers feeling uplifted and satisfied.
Amy June Bates
2012, 176 pages
Babies, Books for Boys, Character/Values, Family Life, Life Challenges, Magic, Self-Awareness Discovery, Siblings, Talking Animals
• Why do you think that William's father went away?
• How does William try to protect his mom and sister?
• Do you think that writing is magic or hard work? Why?
• William mentions that "if you don't talk about it maybe it isn't there." Is that a good way to handle your problems?
• Why does William feel like the grown up in the house?
• How does William act bravely? In what situations have you been brave?
• Is it possible to forgive someone who hurts you, without understanding the reasons behind their actions?
• Have you ever wondered what your pets were thinking? Do you wish they could speak?
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