4 out of 5 stars
I haven’t taken the opportunity to pick up any of Neil Patrick Harris’ books but while we were on vacation I popped into the bookshop and came across “The Magic Misfits“. I looked it over, found that it was reviewed by Lemony Snicket and just knew I needed to read it. I was not disappointed!
The book starts off with a boy name Carter. Both of his parents have died and he is being raised by his Uncle Sly who is a con man and moves them from city to city taking advantage of people. Carter is not happy with his life and he refuses to steal, which is something his uncle is requiring from him. Carter befriends a lady who his uncle steals from and this is the final straw – Carter gives her back her stolen necklace and runs away. He jumps a train and falls asleep – when he wakes up he is in a small town called Mineral Springs and there is a circus in town. He checks things out, comes across a mysterious man who gives him some advice, and realizes how hungry he is. He sees uneaten food in a trash bin and picks it up to eat and is caught and taken to BB Bosso, the circus boss to be reprimanded. Bosso askes if Carter wants to join his band of circus employees and Carter has a bad feeling about the whole thing and finds a way out. After sleeping on a park bench he decides to look for the mystery man he met at the circus and finds him in his magic shop, along with 3 other kids who love doing magic as much as he does. From here the story takes off with various twists and turns and leaves us wondering if the kids can save the day! Will Carter have to go back to Uncle Sly? Who are these twins?
This is the first book in the series – Neil Patrick Harris says there will be 4 books total (there will be one book for each of the 4 suits in a deck of cards!) so we have even more to look forward to! As this is a mid-level reader, kids 8 and up will do fine with the story and the reading. The font is on the larger side, the book is full of lovely illustrations, and even cooler there are various magic tricks the kids can work on and special codes to decipher. As an adult I loved that aspect and I know the kids will too! Chapters are also on the shorter side so reluctant readers won’t feel too overwhelmed with that.
Outside of that fun there are some really good messages throughout the book. My favorites:
- Learning about one another so you can be friends: each of the kids in this book has something special about them, but when they learned each other’s story and see the humanity in each other, they recognize there was a more powerful force that makes them more alike than different (magic), they became fast friends and stuck together.
- There is a great deal of empathy too. They help each other when another is hurt and they look out for each other.
- There is joy and adventure throughout the book and that was lovely.
I highly recommend this book for kids and adults alike. As an adult, just keep in mind this is a book for children and the story line isn’t going to be as complex as adult books. The writing is really solid and vocabulary is kept to “mid-level”. My son has just picked it up to read on his own and he is loving it. In fact I am having a hard time getting him to put it down to come and have dinner!
Check it out and enjoy the ride!