Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Magician’s Doll by M.L. Roble

Pages: 318
Source: Review copy from the author:  The opinions expressed here are my own.
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult Fantasy

How is twelve-year-old Natalie supposed to cope when her mother opens shop as a psychic?
Or when she herself starts to "see" things?

Burying her head in the sand is Natalie's preferred method for dealing, but no one else wants to leave it at that. Her friend Phillip wants her to stop being so stubborn and use her gift to help him find his missing father already! Natalie's mother wishes she would work on developing her gift instead of hoping it will wither up and die. Then there is the gift itself, which does not care one whit about what Natalie feels and takes control of her at inopportune moments to give her knowledge she does not seek.

Natalie's biggest obstacle to denial, however, is the big top circus that rolls into town, bringing with it Beausoleil the Magician, his daughter Louisa and his mysterious doll. Strange things are afoot with Beausoleil and his ilk, and in their wake, a storm is brewing: one that will threaten everything Natalie knows about her life and the people around her. Soon Natalie must decide whether to keep her head in the sand, or whether to embrace her gift and face the growing threat that will change her world forever.

My Thoughts:
When I first read the synopsis and then started reading the book I was reminded of the Ray Bradbury Book and Movie "Something Wicked This Way Comes".  It was always one of my favorites.  I wondered if maybe this would be too intense for my sixth graders.  Every year my students are different.  Some more mature than others.  I had no reason to worry. When the first student turned the book back in and declared it was "Just Right", I knew I had a winner for my shelves. He told me if you like to read mysteries and magic then this was the book to read.  The line to have their name put on the list to check out the book grew because of that student's remarks.
I loved the character Natalie from the very start.  She doesn't want to feel like an outsider, yet she does because her mom puts up her "psychic" sign.  The kids tease her.  However, Natalie can hold her own against them.  She hates that her mother is weird.  I think one of the reasons is because Natalie has a "gift" that she has kept hidden.  Unfortunately when a carnival comes to town she has to make some tough choices.  This is perfect for kids of the middle grade age.  It forces them to look at the way they treat each other and their differences.  It makes them look at what true friendship is and what they would do in certain circumstances.  I am sure this book was written to be a wonderful story, yet I find it is a great example of teaching kids something without them realizing they are learning  I will definitely continue to recommend this book to parents and students.

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