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Dolphin Luck

Dolphin Luck

by Hilary McKay, Bill Farnsworth (Illustrator)

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"Some dolphin luck would be very useful," said Beany.

It's a wet, cold, and miserable Christmas. Mrs. Robinson is ill and so is Old Blanket, the Robinsons' beloved dog. Following the doctor's orders, Mr. Robinson takes Mrs. Robinson off to recuperate in a warmer climate, leaving Beany and Sun Dance, their two younger children, in


"Some dolphin luck would be very useful," said Beany.

It's a wet, cold, and miserable Christmas. Mrs. Robinson is ill and so is Old Blanket, the Robinsons' beloved dog. Following the doctor's orders, Mr. Robinson takes Mrs. Robinson off to recuperate in a warmer climate, leaving Beany and Sun Dance, their two younger children, in the capable care of Mrs. Brogan, who with her son, Robin, lives in the other half of Porridge Hall, an old seaside mansion. The twins, Ant and Perry, are shipped off to Great Aunt Mabel. To Beany and Sun Dance, it seems as though things can't get any worse.

Sun Dance settles down to capture any burglar who may attempt to rob their house, and Beany determines to find an ancient sword, with a hilt in the shape of a dolphin, that is supposed to bring luck and grant wishes. Meanwhile, Ant and Perry find their old aunt not quite what they expected. She eats porridge and nothing else and lives with two large dogs, four cats, and a parrot.

Before the Robinson family is reunited, each one of them has had extraordinary, sometimes scary, frequently harrowing adventures that make for touching, often hilarious, utterly absorbing reading. This companion to Hilary McKay's earlier Dog Friday and The Amber Cat, with its rich characterization and great originality, is an outstanding achievement.

Editorial Reviews

ALAN Review
Christmas for the Robinson's is far from merry. Both Mrs. Robinson and the beloved family dog are very ill. After hearing a local legend in which a dolphin-hilted sword grants wishes, eight-year-old Beany decides the family needs a bit of that dolphin luck. Needing rest and recuperation, Mrs. Robinson heads alone to a seaside resort, leaving her family to be split among friends and relatives. Beany and ten-year-old Sun Dance stay with a neighbor, and twelve-year-old twins, Ant and Perry, are sent to stay with "crazy" Great Aunt Mabel. Beany spends her days searching for the lost dolphin sword while Sun Dance sets traps to protect the vacant family home from burglars. The twins have unusual adventures of their own. But no one is prepared for the burglar Sun Dance's trap does catch. McKay writes a humorous story of self-reliance and courage, which accurately portrays Beany's desire to make everything right again through the magic of wishes-come-true. Genre: Adventure/Self-Reliance. 1998, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Ages 9 to 12, $16.00. Reviewer: Lisa Wroble
Library Journal - Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Mistaken identity, a wish-granting sword, and a too-successful burglar trap all figure into this family story about some very unusual and perceptive children who take on the world with joie de vivre. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-The Robinson family has been having a run of bad luck as Hilary McKay's novel begins (McElderry Books, 1999). Mrs. Robinson is feeling under the weather, the family dog has died, and Perry and his brother Sun Dance aren't getting along. When their parents leave for a holiday, the four children are split up and sent to stay with friends and family. The twins, Ant and Perry, take the train to their Mad Aunt Mabel's house. Beany and Sun Dance stay next door in Porridge Hall with Mrs. Brogan and her son. Luck begins to change for the Robinsons when Mrs. Brogan tells the children a story about a mysterious Viking sword with a dolphin-shaped hilt that grants wishes. Beany sets out to find the sword and solve her family's problems, while Sun Dance decides to trap a burglar, and Ant and Perry settle in with their slightly crazy Aunt. This hilarious family story is narrated by Judy Bennett with a pleasing British accent and an appropriate tone of voice to match each character. Her pace keeps the story moving back and forth easily between Porridge Hall and Hemingford North. Listeners will laugh at Sun Dance's attempts to build a perfect burglar trap, at the exhumation of a beloved pet, and at the twins' extraordinary journeys on the train. Filled with quirky children, loving families, and silly adventures, this audiobook is a good choice for school and public libraries. Listeners will want to seek out McKay's other books, Dog Friday and The Amber Cat, which feature many of the same characters.-Casey Rondini, Westerly Public Library, RI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Horn Book Magazine
The Robinsons (Dog Friday [rev. 1/96], The Amber Cat [rev. 11/97]) are a bit down on their luck this Christmas: Mrs. Robinson has pneumonia; Perry seems to have forgotten that younger brother Sun Dance requires "handling with care"; and Old Blanket-the family dog, feeling poorly of late-finally gives up the ghost. No sooner is Old Blanket laid to rest than Mr. Robinson announces he's taking their mother to Barbados to recuperate, with the twins to be shipped off to their great-aunt's while the younger two stay with Robin and Mrs. Brogan. The book shifts back and forth between each set of siblings and their screwball adventures, but the main story revolves around eight-year-old Beany and her belief that she's found a sword that grants wishes-the same sword that in Mrs. Brogan's story about a Viking girl "gave Freya something to hang on to for the last bit" of a difficult ocean journey. Similarly, the sword and the wishes she makes on it help Beany endure the rough patch her family is going through. Fans will appreciate this third volume, which features McKay's usual hilarious escapades: Sun Dance trying to attract a burglar by lining the driveway with a tempting display of choice household items; Beany and Sun Dance digging up Old Blanket to see if he's gone to dog heaven-an episode guaranteed to bring back happy memories of Dog Friday's unforgettable Pork Chop Man.
Kirkus Reviews
Four eccentric but gallant children get into an amazing amount of trouble in this madcap comedy from McKay (The Amber Cat, 1997, etc.). The Robinson family's mother is sick and their father takes her away to recuperate, sending the twelve-year-old twins, Perry and Ant, to visit with their kooky Aunt Mabel, while ten-year-old Sun Dance and eight-year-old Beany stay with a neighbor. The twins are supposed to travel alone by train to Mabel's, but they get off at the wrong stop and are several hours late. They know Mabel neither by her appearance, nor her last name, so wind up moving in with a bizarre old lady who is too batty to tell them that she's not their aunt. Meanwhile, Sun Dance devises a burglar trap, accidentally ensnaring Mabel, who is searching for the missing twins. Not to be outdone, Beany spends her time wishing on what she believes to be a magical sword, then digs up the garden to see if her wish—that her recently buried beloved dog went to heaven—came true. For readers unfamiliar with the previous books about this lot, the set-up may feel sluggish; that the whole affair is wildly improbable won't surprise McKay's fans. Ultimately, the book gains momentum, becomes enjoyably outrageous, and culminates in an amusing, gratifying ending. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.56(h) x 0.67(d)
750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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