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Waiting for the Magic

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  1,736 ratings  ·  341 reviews
People may drift apart
But love can hold them together.
Sometimes we find that love through magic –
Sometimes that magic is all around us.

This is a story about all of these things.

But it's also a story about how
four dogs
and one cat
help one boy
and his sister
save their family.
Hardcover, 143 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Okay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtA Monster Calls by Patrick NessWonderstruck by Brian SelznickDivergent by Veronica RothInside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Newbery 2012
85th out of 168 books — 680 voters
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha LaiWaiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlanSpy School by Stuart GibbsThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleThe Humming Room by Ellen Potter
2015 Iowa Children's Choice Nominees
2nd out of 78 books — 11 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,801)
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Heather H
SPOILER!!! First i would like to point out that this book is super cute especially if you like or believe in magic yourself. In waiting for the magic, There are two kids, William and Elinor and their father leaves them to their mother. Their mother then decides that bringing home a cat and four dogs will help the children feel better. These animals are unique in a way because they are able to communicate with people telepathically if they believe in magic but William doesnt believe in magic. How ...more
Melissa Wine
Fantasy Novel:

I love the magic in this book! Readers at any age should have their imaginations alive. And what kid doesn’t dream of communicating with their pets?! In this story, William and Elinor’s father leaves them so he can “find some magic” and write a book. He never wanted pets in the house, so one day their mom decides to take them to an animal shelter and adopt some pets to help them feel better about everything. These animals are special because they are able to communicate with people
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
When William's father suddenly leaves the family, no one is sure he will come back. To cope, William's mother takes him and his sister Elinor to the animal shelter, where they adopt 4 dogs and a cat, to "replace his father." While the animals do provide a focus for their love and attention, both children worry that their father will never come back. When he does, Elinor immediately forgives, but William must come to terms with how he feels about his dad. This is a sweet story about family dynami ...more
I realize that this is a children's book, and I was hooked at the start. I read, experienced the "magic" that animals bring to a family, broken when papa leaves for a while. I continued to read, as mom discovers a secret that leads to his return, and the family begins to mend and heal. But I still felt like I was waiting, even as the book ended, for the plot to reach a climax. It never really happened, and I don't feel like the main character, William, really resolved his conflict with his fathe ...more
Erika Gentry
Typical Patricia MacLachlan-pulls at your heartstrings. When Elinor's and William's father leaves, their mother adopts 4 dogs and a cat to ease their suffering. They become 'magical' companions as they cope with their father's absence. Loved the charcoal pencil illustrations-especially p.126. Made me want to adopt a dog cause PM made it seem like caring for animals was so simple-until I reminded myself of the barking, accidents, home destruction, shedding fur, smell, poop pick-up, and endless ve ...more
I give two and a half stars to this book, and there's plenty about it that makes me want to round that rating up instead of down. The beautiful sensitivity of author Patricia MacLachlan's writing is as evident as in any of her greatest stories, and the characters seem to sparkle with a certain indescribable magic even while clearly being rooted in the same imperfect world in which we all live. Few other authors can pull off a trick like that, and I don't know if I can think of a single one that ...more
This book is slightly longer than a beginning chapter book, the reading level seems pretty low, but the topics covered will resonant with older readers. This would make this a good hi-low reader despite the cover which may not appeal to older readers.

This is a story of grief and forgiveness. William and Elinor's father leaves his family after fighting with their mother with no true explanation. The children and mother are shocked and saddened. The mother heads to the pound and adopts all of the
Chelsea N. Smith
Waiting for the Magic tells a story about a fact of childhood that has become more and more prevalent in American culture. William and and Elinor's father leaves one night, unannounced and doesn't come back. This comes at a time in William's childhood where he is questioning whether or not magic exists. After his dad leaves, all magic is lost on him. His mother, in an attempt to keep the family together, decides that a pet is what is needed to bring her mopey kids back to life. The whole family ...more
Honestly, I'm still not sure what I think about this one. It's cute, it's sweet, it's funny, it's...odd.

I'll just say it: It has talking doggies. Telepathically talking doggies.

William and Elinor's father just left. Again. Only this time was different. This time, he didn't slam the door on his way out. This time, he closed the door slowly, with just a >click<. This was significant to William (he's a smart boy). Their mother is so upset that she loads the kids in the car, drives straight
Aug 16, 2012 Cball rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 3rd-5th graders
Recommended to Cball by: Kirstin
A story with 4 dogs in it--and none of them die? FIVE STARS, right there!

This is hands down my favorite 3rd-5th grade book I've read this year. Wonderful, wonderful story about a family on the brink of being torn apart (but does not go into much detail--perfect for this age group) when Jane, the mom, goes to the nearest animal shelter and takes home four (yes 4!) dogs (and a cat!) to help the family get through this very tough time.

What Jane doesn't realize is the animals can talk--but only if y
Rachel Seigel
This was an incredibly sweet and satisfying story about how four dogs and a cat brought a family back together. The writing is excellent, and the characters- including the dogs all have distinct personalities. It made me laugh and it made me cry- not from sadness, but because I was moved by the story. It's an absolutely worthwile read for those who are slightly too young to appreciate Spinelli or Laurel Snyder, but the same amount of magic.
One of my students, Evelyn, recommended this book to me. She brought it into the library and asked if I had read it, then loaned me her copy. I showed her all the other books by Patricia MacLachlan and she chose one to check out and take with her.

Thanks for the loan, Evelyn, You were right - I really enjoyed it!
This is the story of a family which is broken when the dad, a college literature professor, leaves home. The two children Will, a boy going into fifth grade, and Elinor his four year old sister are naturally upset. Their mother, Janey, says her husband is a flawed man who doesn't know what he wants. The family goes to the pound to adopt a dog since Papa had never wanted a pet. They meet four different dogs; a sturdy brown somewhat unfriendly dog named Bryn, a small terrier named Bitty, a greyhou ...more
I'm not much of an animal lover (despite having 2 dogs) but I find it odd I've recently read this title and Ask Bob and both were satisfying reads and I enjoyed both for guiding the reader to a place of happiness for the characters.
Marianne Reeves
I adore Patricia MacLachlan's writing ever since Sarah, Plain and Tall. This story is just magical with its set of pets that bring wholeness to this family. Just perfect for Grades 1-4.
Excellent juvenile fiction. Sweet, sweet story about a family survivng and over coming difficult circumstances with the help of four loveable dogs and one very patient cat.
Dean Deters
Summary tittal waiting for the maigc thay got four dogs and one cat.After their papa left them. A couple of months later he came back and he made
chocolatechicken.At the end she snugols up with him.

stting Thay get four dog
at the pounned .And at the house they
sleep by Elnor mama.

character trait
elinor is vary sad and caring for everboby including all the animals.

mostImportant event They get four dog and one cat. At the pounnd.They be
hared relly good.

Recommendation I
recommendation to people h
Taelynn Randolph
I love this book so much!!It is one of the best bluebonnet books I have ever read!
Debra Marshall
A broken family comes together through the magic of talking dogs and a cat who seem to be wiser than their human family.
When I started this one I thought I was NOT going to like it. Happily it changed my mind, it was magical.
I liked this okay, but I did not love it. A story of a family recovering from a near-divorce, the lynchpin is about their four dogs, who they one by one realize can talk. It's a nice little story, and perhaps if I hadn't just read Guinea Dog I would think more highly of it; as it stands, it's sort of a run-of-the-mill pet tale. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing to stand out, either. Lightly recommended for kids who have already read Guinea Dog, Because of Winn Dixie, and all the other pet-centr ...more
Ms. MacLachlan once again speaks a bit to the tough work of writing. Other serious themes are touched upon, such as what happens when parents disagree and a parent leaves. The narrator of this story is a fourth-grade boy, so the story should appeal to upper elementary-aged kids, although the writing itself is quite simple, accessible to early readers. Animal lovers, too, should enjoy this story. When the dad of the family(who apparently feels he needs a different environment for his writing ende ...more
I'll admit when I started reading this I didn't really like it, it seemed to unbelievable, I mean adopting FIVE animals after the father walks out. How realistic is that? But by the time I finished the story, MacLachlan had won me over. Yes, the book is not necessarily realistic in terms of the practical nature of real life, but at the same time the emotions it projects are very real. The anger that William feels toward his father, the confusion of his younger sister, Elinor, seem all too real. ...more
Oct 24, 2011 Renee rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: paw
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patricia Powell
In “Waiting for the Magic,” by Patricia MacLachlan (Atheneum 2011), Will’s parents fight and his father leaves. This real--but sad--scenario is one that so many children (and parents) experience.
The next day, Will, ten, goes with Mama and his sister Elinor, four, to the animal shelter. They take home all four dogs and one cat. Papa didn’t want animals. Papa, who is a college literature professor, left to “find some magic” and write a book.
Mama’s behavior seems authentic when she slips and says
Waiting for the Magic has quickly become my favorite work by Newberry-Award-winning author Patricia MacLachlan. The story is told through the eyes of Will, who is about 10-12 years old. The story opens with Will receiving a note from his father apologizing for the fact that he is leaving. HIs father has also left a note for his four-year-old sister Elinor, to whom Will must read it. Will tears his note into little pieces and throws them in the trash.

Immediately following this, Will’s mother load
I liked the plot of this story. If I was younger this would probably be one of my favorite books, because it's every kids dream (at least it was mine!) to have a ton of dogs, and it would be a bonus if they could talk like in the book. The reason why I wasn't as into it as I would of been as a kid, because now all I could think of was how irresponsible it was for the mom to adopt all those dogs, especially since the dad left. You would think that financially she would try to not spend as much. B ...more
What a sweet and charming tale from the author of "Sarah, Plain and Tall"! This story combines a little fantasy, or 'magic'(as suggested by the title) with a family situation that many young people can relate to in these days. The story begins as the boy shares how his world is turned upside-down when his father leaves. His mother responds by going to the pound to adopt a dog, since the dad had never allowed pets. She and the kids come home with several dogs and a cat! It doesn't take long befor ...more
This novel, written by Patricia MacLachlan (author of "Sarah, Plain & Tall"), I recommend highly for children who are beginning chapter book reading, as well as adults. MacLachlan does an excellent job of treating serious family concerns(absentee fatherhood, pregnancy) through children's [and pets'] eyes. William and Elinor's father leaves his family (again) and their mother decides to take corrective action by adopting four dogs and a cat. The family readjusts, and the reader sees, through ...more
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Patricia MacLachlan is a bestselling U.S. children's author, best known for winning the 1986 Newbery Medal for her book Sarah, Plain and Tall.

For more information, please see
More about Patricia MacLachlan...
Sarah, Plain and Tall (Sarah, Plain and Tall, #1) Skylark (Sarah, Plain and Tall #2) Caleb's Story (Sarah, Plain and Tall #3) All the Places to Love Edward's Eyes

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