Can we all just take a moment to appreciate the gift to children’s literature that is Andrea Beaty? Because really. Her picture books are a delight–Rosie Revere, Engineer, and Iggy Peck, Architect, and Ada Twist, Scientist, not to mention Hush, Baby Ghostling, etc.–and the Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies duo is quite the romp, but I LOVED Dorko the Magnificent. I texted screen shots of pages to more than one person just to share the laugh, and yet if Robbie had had a different style of narration I probably would have cried a few times as well. (The style worked perfectly for the book, though, and there was plenty of poignancy.) If Joan Bauer had Anne of Green Gables on the brain–in a very contemporary setting–she might have written Dorko. Robbie has all the passion for magic that her characters have for their various hobbies, but with Anne’s penchant for getting into scrapes rather consistently. And Grandma Melvyn could conceivably be a modern-day mashup of Marilla, Rachel Lynde, Mr. Harrison, Mrs. Gibson, and whatever other of L.M. Montgomery’s crotchety older characters that you can think of. (Although she’s also very much her own person.)
Anyway. Comparison can only take you so far, however, because Andrea Beaty is fabulous in her own right. Robbie’s quest to wow the world (starting with Hobson Elementary School) with his magic act intersects with Grandma Melvyn’s move into his home in an unforgettable mix of disaster and triumph; the relationship between the two of them, however, is what makes the book great. It’s a classic plot–the sort that’s classic for good reason–and it’s executed almost flawlessly. Get this for your kids, read it yourself, and recommend it to a friend, because it’s a thoroughly delightful read.