Waiting for the Magic

Waiting for the Magic


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People may drift apart, but love can hold them together. A touching tale of pets and family told in the “venerable spare and moving style” of Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan, author of Sarah, Plain and Tall (Booklist).

When William’s father leaves, his mother promptly goes out and adds four dogs and a cat to their lives. William’s sure that nothing can fill the hole left by his father, but the new additions to the family are determined to help. With his sister, Elinor, and his mother, William will learn that “family” can come in all shapes and sizes, because sometimes we find love through magic, and sometimes that magic is all around us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416927464
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 09/18/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 119,978
Product dimensions: 5.28(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.49(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Patricia MacLachlan is the author of many well-loved novels and picture books, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal; its sequels, Skylark and Caleb’s Story; Edward’s Eyes; The True Gift; Waiting for the Magic; White Fur Flying; and Fly Away. She lives in western Massachusetts.

Amy June Bates has illustrated books including the Sam the Man series, Sweet Dreams and That’s What I’d Do, both by singer-songwriter Jewel; and Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan. She lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with her husband and three children.

Read an Excerpt

Waiting for the Magic

  • IT WAS EARLY ON A SATURDAY summer morning when my mother and father stopped arguing and Papa walked away. He is a teacher of literature at the college, so he could have said words when he left. He didn’t. And this time he didn’t slam the door. He shut it with a small, soft sound that made me jump.

    “Click,” said my four-year-old sister, Elinor, looking up from her coloring book. I stared at the door. I could feel my heart thump. And I could feel tears coming.

    Later, when I went into my bedroom, I found two notes from Papa—one for me and one for Elinor.

    Dear William,

    I’ve gone off to do some writing. I will call you. And I’ll be back to see you soon. I’m sorry for this.

    I love you,


    I read Elinor’s note to her. It was like mine, but he had drawn a picture of Elinor in her long dress.

    Elinor took the note but didn’t say anything.

    Suddenly Mama was in the doorway. She beckoned to me.

    “Let’s go, William,” she said. “Get your sweater, Elinor.”

    I stood up and tore my letter into small pieces.

    “What’s that?” Mama asked.

    “Nothing,” I said. “Go where?”

    I followed Mama out to the car.

    She strapped Elinor into her car seat.

    “We’re going to get a dog,” she said firmly.

    I sat next to Mama in the front seat.

    “Papa never wanted a dog,” I said.

    “That’s true,” said Mama. “Your father is a flawed man. Everyone should have a dog.”

    “What is ‘flawed’?” asked Elinor from the backseat.

    “It means stupid,” said Mama with feeling.

    “Stupid is a bad word,” Elinor announced. She pronounced “word” as wood.

    “Yes,” said Mama. “He is a stupid bad wood.”

    Elinor had a list of “bad woods,” forbidden by Mama who thought words like “fat” and “stupid” were cruel to call anyone.

    Mama began to cry then, very quietly, so that Elinor couldn’t see. I couldn’t say anything. Mama’s crying scared me. All I could do was hate Papa for this. For causing Mama to cry right in front of me.

    A driver cut off Mama, and she slammed on the brakes.

    “Go to your house, lady!” yelled Elinor at the driver. “Read a book or watch a movie!”

    Mama started to laugh, and so did I. Those words coming out of Elinor’s mouth; that face surrounded by messy blond hair. Words that must have been Mama’s at one time.

    “What kind of dog are we getting?” I asked.

    “Whatever they have,” said Mama.

    “Can we get a cat?” asked Elinor from the back.

    “Yes,” said Mama.

    For a moment I thought about asking for a horse, but I didn’t think Mama’s mood about animals would last that long.

    Mama turned into the long driveway at the animal shelter.

    As we walked to the front door, Mama took my hand. “I shouldn’t have said that about your father, William,” she said.

    “Will he come back?” I asked.

    He had gone before and come back happily after a while as if nothing had happened.

    “Probably. I’m mad at him, Will. But that doesn’t make him bad.” She paused. “Sometimes your papa doesn’t know what he wants.”

    I didn’t answer Mama. He had gone before, but he had never left notes for Elinor and me. Somehow that seemed more final, that note. It was something to be read, saved, or torn up. Maybe Papa felt that leaving a note made going away all right.

    Thinking about it would wait for later. In fact, when we went inside I forgot all about my father for just a little while because Mama surprised me more.

    The shelter was small, and a woman with spiky hair invited us in. Her name tag said JULIA.

    “I’m glad you brought your children. We don’t let families adopt dogs without the children present.”

    We walked through a door to a room where the dogs were. She turned to us.

    “We have four dogs right now. There is a little description and history of each dog. When you see one you’re interested in, let me know. You can spend time with him or her to see if you’re a fit. I assure you that they are all friendly. Call me when you’re ready.”

    The first dog’s name was Bryn.

    Mama read about Bryn.

    “Bryn’s owner has gone to a nursing home and can’t take the dog with her.”

    Bryn was sturdy and brown, with a sharp nose, long velvet ears, and a line of raised hair along her back. She sat up and curled her lip at us, showing her teeth. Friendly?

    “Shark,” announced Elinor.

    Mama laughed.

    “Hello, Bryn,” she said. “You’re a pretty girl.”

    Bryn wagged her tail. Her face changed when she heard Mama’s voice.

    Bitty, the next dog, was small, with a terrier face and body.

    I read out loud to Elinor. “Bitty is high energy. Too much for his family.” And Bitty, as if he had heard me, jumped straight up in the air.

    Elinor laughed.

    In the next pen there was a greyhound, tall, standing still like a statue. Her name was Grace.

    “Grace,” I told Elinor. “She is very shy but friendly. She had a life of racing, but unlike many racing greyhounds, she is gentle with small animals. She needs a home with peaceful people.”

    “We are peaceful,” said Elinor.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Waiting for the Magic 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is one of the best books I've read this year! It made me smile broadly and laugh out loud many times over! Of course, I'm a sucker for dog books, but this one is definitely one of my favorites! I'm a children's librarian and will recommend this book in my library for years to come! Highly Recommended!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! I love it =)
    Betsy Allen More than 1 year ago
    This book is so well written... my favorite book!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have read this over and over again. Why? Because it is an amazing book! This is a book about a boy whos father left. He is now stuck with a sister who believes in magic and a mom who says bad words and worries alot and 4 dogs and 1 cat. How will he bring his new family into a happy family, the way he wants it to be like? Go ahead and buy this book. Cause if ou don't, then you will be sorry! Highly Recommended!
    NimueKR More than 1 year ago
    Charming, original and thoroughly enjoyable.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I read this book in fith grade i liked the part when they get a lot of pets i like the whole book but the ending was cute i think a ll of you should read it!!!!!!!!! Waiting for the magic!!!! : )
    ljldml on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    What an incredible book. A heartwarming story about a family coming together. Papa Joe leaves his wife and two children to 'find himself' and write. Waiting for the Magic.Mom takes the children and adopts 4 dogs and a cat. They become a family. Joe learns that the magic is at home with his now expanding family. A very poignant story. I loved the characters. Found myself laughing out loud at the animals and at young Elinor. The ending was as I expected, but nonetheless, brought warmth and heartfelt smiles.I truly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves a great warm hearted story.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The whole book is about a family that gets s lot of pets and their dad is in and out its a wild adventure! Its an easy read.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a good book you need to read it
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I think this book is great for kids i love it sl far im half way thought im reafing it with a paper book
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The tittlae was a good tittle for the book but when u get the sample all that is good is three padges of the book it sounds good but i can not relly tell from the sample
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Soooooo good!!!! I love it! 100% great.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Shows a story about moving on
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Highly recommend! This was an EXCELLENT read...not only for youngsters but adults as well!!! I highly recommend the book for those who wonder what happened to the magic in their lives! enjoy!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The stars are for how awesome i an