The Magic Misfits, Book 1

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
The Magic Misfits, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Fast-paced, fun adventure about kid magician finding home.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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 EventsHow 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymrs.hogan April 16, 2019

The best magic book

Below are the reviews of Magic Misfits from my 4th grade students:

I love the book because it was a great mystery book and it was just heartwarming. It just ma... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byCruffle September 5, 2020

Great book!

Honestly this book brings a variety of messages, and I don't know why the other ratings are so bothered by the fact that there is a gay couple. The author... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCheryl_bombshell December 7, 2019


Magic misfits is now my favorite book series I’m a ginormous fan of the gang ( carter ,Theo , Leala,Ridley,izzy,Olly.) Neil Patrick Harris has truly outdone him... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love magic

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