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School Library Journal

09/01/2013 Gr 4-6—Because he is afraid of dogs, Peter is shocked when he hears himself asking for one for his 12th birthday. Later, after bringing one home from a shelter, he is stunned to learn that his new pet actually talks. The Dog tells Peter that he needs help in releasing his previous owner, a magician, from a terrible spell. The Dog will, in return, teach Peter magic, which could help bring his father home from deployment in the Middle East. As Peter’s practice of magic improves and deepens, he realizes that he is a better wizard when he is angry, and he has to confront his feelings about his father’s absence. Peter’s siblings also become involved with the attempts to free the magician. Peter’s relationships are realistic. The resolution to the psychological pain of missing his father rings true and the magical plot presents adventure and an exciting climax. Fantasy fans will enjoy this story, and the fast-moving plot will engage reluctant readers.—Tina Martin, Arlington Heights Memorial Library, IL


10/15/2013 When his twelfth birthday rolls around, even Peter is surprised to hear himself asking for a dog. He doesn’t even like dogs. After selecting the scruffiest mutt at the shelter, he learns that The Dog actually chose him—to become a magician in order to free his former owner (another magician) from a malevolent life. Peter, still dealing with his father’s recent deployment overseas, learns his anger can powerfully boost his magic, but at a terrible cost. His only hope is to find another source of strength within himself. The family relationships, particularly among Peter and his two younger sisters, are well drawn, and The Dog is an appealing, original character. Though some sections of the writing seem more studied than organic, Sackett creates sympathetic characters and rousing action scenes. The fantasy, which includes magical elements from flying at night to dinosaur attacks, is grounded by the realistic setting. The eye-catching jacket features the three kids, The Dog, and a T. rex. Grades 4-6.—Carolyn Phelan

City Book Review

9/6/2013 I think that The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog, which is written by Frances Sackett, is a good book. Peter Lubinsky, one of the main characters, finds that he wants to adopt a dog for his birthday. While he is at the animal shelter, he feels compelled to get a small white mutt. Later, after Peter has The Dog at home, he finds that The Dog can talk and do magic. The Dog says that if Peter will help The Dog turn his master back from a rock to a person, he will teach Peter enough magic to bring back his dad, who was sent to a war. Peter agrees, and they both go to the magician’s mansion to change the magician back. However, when they change the magician from a rock into a person, they find that the magician wants to kill them both!

I think that the writer did a good job writing this book. I could not tell what was going to happen because she kept putting twists into the book. I think that people that like fantasy and magic would like this book.–Reviewed by Logan, Age 12

Photo by ParkerDeen/iStock / Getty Images

Blogger Reviews

Mrs. Martin Teaches Media

It’s a story with heart, hope, and a big imagination. While exploring feelings of loss, anger, and selfishness, Frances Sackett writes an endearing tale of friendship and family in this debut middle grade novel… The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog uses humor, flights of fancy, and family values to tell a story that is both insightful and entertaining.
— Alethea Allarey

Good Reads with Ronna

Misadventures is about more than just a magical quest. It includes elements of family dynamics—Peter’s relationship with his parents and sisters—as well as issues of self-esteem. Peter is an “army brat,” moving from city to city and school to school. He has a hard time making friends and fitting in, and he is not even close to brimming with confidence. He feels the burden of the being the “man of the house” while his father is away, and has a rocky relationship with one of his sisters, Celia. Misadventures ties these very real, everyday issues and the emotional brunt they bear to Peter’s ability to help The Dog, and, ultimately, his own family and himself. An entertaining and discussion-provoking read, The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog is a solid step into the fantasy genre.
— Rita Zobayan


This story was entertaining, engaging, and thought provoking… 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.
— Kathy Martin, school librarian


This is my favorite kind of book, a tricky book!! There is a magical theme and a fantastic cover that draws students in like flies, and then ends up teaching them subtle real life lessons. This book is truly about how to cope with the real anger and fear that a child feels when a parent goes to war and how to transform these feelings into love and communication. Awesome book!!! Rated “essential for a school library collection.
— Stephanie, elementary school librarian & author

Mrs. Brown Loves Bookworms

…It will make a great introduction to fantasy for my young readers not quite ready for John Flanagan or J.K. Rowling. Great little read showing love’s more powerful than evil.—
— Sara Brown, teacher