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: The Second Story centers on a girl who was cruelly bullied in an orphanage before being adopted by two doting dads. Leila's yearning to learn more about her birth parents -- and why they abandoned her -- is the emotional core of the story, the second in the series by Neil Patrick Harris. Several characters deal with challenges: missing parents, a father killed in an accident, an emotionally abusive relationship. The story references bootlegging and speakeasies and showcases a brawl with armed thugs. But the tone of the story is warm and uplifting, anchored by Leila's close relationship with her dad and poppa and her diverse group of friends.
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What's the story?
THE MAGIC MISFITS: THE SECOND STORY puts the spotlight on Leila, a skilled escape artist who adores her adoptive fathers but has always wondered about who left her at an orphanage as an infant. The mysteries of her past collide with the present when Sandra, a famed psychic and childhood friend of Leila's dad, sweeps into Mineral Wells. Leila hopes this will be a chance to learn more about her dad's past, too. But the cost grows ever higher as Leila, her dad and poppa, and her magical friends are swept up in a mystery involving a long-ago fire, bootlegging tunnels, a rascal monkey, a gang of thugs, and a coveted ledger.
Is it any good?
Beneath the magic, mystery, and mayhem, Neil Patrick Harris' second Magic Misfits story is about identity and authenticity, and the unfaltering love and support that bind a strong family together. The Magic Misfits: The Second Story shifts to the viewpoint of Leila, an escape artist. Written by actor and showman Neil Patrick Harris (A Series of Unfortunate Events), the Misfits series delivers strong messages about finding strength and comfort in friendship while unspooling a wild and mysterious adventure.
The plot is patched together to prop up set pieces rather than build a strong story. And the writing is often clunky, with awkward interruptions to showcase magic tricks. But the story shines with a loving message of compassion and loving support for friends and family, through dark times and good. How-tos and secret messages to decode inspire readers to create some magic of their own. Sparkling illustrations by Lissy Marlin (Goldie Blox Rules the School!) add to the charm.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes a family in The Magic Misfits: The Second Story. Why does Leila feel so torn about her birth parents? How are the Magic Misfits and the Emerald Ring like families?
Leila and her friends enjoy a fantastical setting in Mr. Vernon's magic shop. Do you have a special place to gather with your friends?
Do you like figuring out how magic tricks are done, or do you prefer to just enjoy the show?
- Author: Neil Patrick Harris
- Illustrators: Lissy Marlin, Kyle Hilton
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: September 25, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
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