A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Includes instructions for performing four simple magic tricks, provides an engaging glimpse into performing magic and famous illusionists. Explains vocabulary words like "vagabond" and terms like "sleight of hand." Emphasizes importance of practice and preparation.
Focusing on gratitude is better than feeling sorry for yourself. Don't believe everything you see -- but remember that magic is out there if you're open to seeing it. Most people feel like misfits in some way, and often what makes you feel like you don't fit in is what makes you remarkable. Using your talents to take advantage of others is unethical, and stealing is never OK. Practice is the only way to improve your skills. A good performance needs to be planned and prepared ahead of time.
Positive Role Models
Carter has a strong moral compass, resisting pressure to unfairly profit off his talents and trying to help people who've been hoodwinked. He enjoys entertaining others. His street smarts make him skeptical and wary, but given an opportunity, he's a warm and loyal friend. Courageous Theo intervenes to stop a mass theft, bold Leila thrives when working through a challenge, and frank Ridley is protective of her friends. Dante is a compassionate, generous father figure who encourages the children to take risks and explore their interests.
Violence & Scariness
Caregiver slams child against wall. Thieves set up elaborate plan to rob people and engage in kidnapping and violence. Children are threatened with violence and murder and insert themselves into dangerous situations.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Magic Misfits is the first in a four-book series by actor and magic fan Neil Patrick Harris (A Series of Unfortunate Events, How I Met Your Mother) about a group of talented, independent young magicians discovering the full scope of their talents. Carter is a street-smart, independent kid stuck with a criminal relative after his parents' disappearance. Despite his difficult life, he appreciates warmhearted people and tries not to take advantage of others. He and his new friends are menaced by a thuggish carnival boss and his minions, who threaten them with physical harm and worse. The core characters are ethnically diverse and include a girl who uses a wheelchair and a girl adopted by two dads.
Is It Any Good?
Actor and author Neil Patrick Harris knows a thing or two about keeping an audience engaged, and he's as successful with his children's book debut as he is on screen and stage. The Magic Misfits has an old-timey charm about it, with a magic shop at its heart and a cartoonishly criminal carnival gang. Harris keeps the story moving at a quick clip and with enough charming razzle-dazzle that readers may not mind that the characters lack much depth.
Some of his tricks echo the voices of Lemony Snicket and Pseudonymous Bosch, but the wide-eyed enthusiasm is all Harris. Strong themes on courage, unconventional families, and finding strength and hope in friendship -- along with some short, clear magic lessons -- earn a strong round of applause.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.