Gr 2-4-Hal's brother Chuck pulls all the usual older sibling routines when Hal becomes fascinated with magic. He cons him into impossible money-making schemes so they can go to see a professional magician, and then laughs at the younger boy' attempts to do some hocus-pocus of his own. But in a satisfying conclusion, Hal fools Chuck with a trick that really works. Beginning readers will enjoy the fast pace and funny dialogue. The chapters are nicely self-contained, almost to the point of being separate stories. Black-and-white cartoon illustrations add to the fun. Buy this for kids who love magic or for beleaguered younger siblings.-Connie Parker, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cleveland
Here's a real charmer for the chapter book set. The words are well within the grasp of new readers; the typeface is large; the leading is generous enough to be attractive; and the black-and-white illustrations are fun. But more than that, Petersen's story is filled with great comedy, and it's right on the mark when it comes to sibling relationships. The arrival of a magic show in town provides the background for three loosely connected episodes: in the first, Hal discovers that his older brother, Chuck, isn't quite as smart as he thought; in the second, Hal realizes that he loves his brother, even if Chuck is sometimes a real pain; and in the third, Hal gives Chuck his comeuppance. Petersen has invested his characters with lots of personality, and the magic background is wonderful--we even learn some magic secrets. The book is simply irresistible.