cover image Dorko the Magnificent

Dorko the Magnificent

Andrea Beaty. Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0638-7

Fifth-grader Robbie Darko has been obsessed with becoming a magician for years, but the illusions he performs tend to end in disaster. Robbie is less than excited when his grandmother moves in with his family temporarily, but could Grandma Melvyn—with her bedazzled sweatshirts, steady stream of insults, and Wheel of Fortune obsession—actually be a master of misdirection herself? The testy intergenerational relationship between Robbie and his grandmother forms the heart of the story; the family’s financial troubles, Robbie’s father’s frequent absences, and Robbie’s friendships hover at the periphery. Humor and poignancy, triumph and failure are balanced throughout, though Beaty (Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies) sends the story veering to tragedy in the final pages in a way that is likely to surprise (and possibly upset) readers. Nonetheless, while Robbie explains early on that he won’t be divulging any magicians’ secrets (“If you’re reading this book to find out how magic tricks work... you’re reading the wrong story”), readers will come away learning at least one key to making magic: hard work. Ages 8–12. Agent: Edward Necarsulmer IV, McIntosh & Otis. (Apr.)