A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Carter, a talented young magician, flees from his con artist caregiver at the start of THE MAGIC MISFITS and hops a train to anywhere. He ends up in the small town of Mineral Wells, where B.B. Bosso's crooked carnival crew tries to recruit quick-fingered Carter into helping them fleece the community. Carter instead is drawn to a dapper magic shop owner named Dante Vernon, who introduces him to a warm, eager group of young misfits united by a love of magic. Though Carter is skeptical -- of magic, family, and friendship -- he catches himself daring to hope that he's found a new home. For his dream to come true, he and his new friends will have to pull off the hardest trick of all: unmasking Bosso for the bad guy he is.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of not fitting in as explored in The Magic Misfits. Why do you think so many stories feature children who feel lonely or unlike everyone else? Do you think it's true that most people feel like misfits some of the time?
Has your circle of friends made room to welcome a new kid? Was it easy or difficult for everyone to feel comfortable?
How do Carter's new friends help strengthen his courage?
- Author: Neil Patrick Harris
- Illustrator: Lissy Marlin
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: November 21, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love magic
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.