Dorko the Magnificent By Andrea Beaty

Dorko the Magnificent 

By: Andrea Beaty 

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Published: April 1, 2013

The Story 

*Based off of the Summary From BookPage*

Robbie Darko, dubbed “Dorko” by the class bully, sets out to perform the greatest magic trick his town has ever seen at the upcoming school talent show. Much to his parents’ and teachers’ dismay (and his classmates’ delight), Robbie uses every possible opportunity to practice his craft, but the arrival of Grandma Melvyn threatens to make Robbie’s grand plan disappear into thin air.
Until she moves into his room, Grandma Melvyn has just been that ill-tempered, smelly, distant elderly relative with the “Wicked Wobble Eye” who isn’t even anyone’s actual grandmother.  Little does Robbie know what tricks Grandma Melvyn, literally, has up her sleeves. 
When the classic tablecloth trick Dorko performs in front of his whole family goes hilariously wrong, Robbie is stunned when Grandma Melvyn explodes with laughter and congratulates him on a job well done. It is then that Robbie learns that Grandma Melvyn was a famous magician. After this, Grandma Melyn starts teaching Robbie her incredible magician’s secrets. 

Robbie, his friend Cat, and Grandma Melyn start to spend weeks working on a disappearing act for the school talent show that is sure to have the whole town talking for years to come, but it is Grandma Melyn who ends up disappearing. Robbie now must make the show go on without her, and learn the true meaning of magic. 

Book Trailer 

Notes for Reader's Advisory & Review

This book was filled with clever humor and relatable situations that make this book a entertaining read.  I think readers will enjoy its wit and its sweet story regarding Grandma Melyn. 

Even though I did enjoy this book , I did feel like it was not memorable to me. 

In the words of Despicable Me: 

....and very predictable, but maybe I am being too harsh. I just found it to be very similar to many other middle grade novels. 

I do think that readers who enjoy realistic fiction may enjoy this book. As I have mentioned earlier, it is relatable. For instance, the family struggles financially, and Robbie's mom has to take on a job to help support his family. Robbie must adjust to not having his mom stay at home all the time, and adjust to his dad being away a majority of the time to support the family. I think many readers will also relate to an elderly relative moving in as well. The author addresses these situations with a great deal of humor that I appreciated. 

So in that regard, I think this book does a great job & I think there is an audience for it. 

I might also recommend this book to readers who enjoy doing magic tricks.  

You could also easily pair this book with a non fiction book on how to do magic too. 

Overall, I thought this was pretty good book, and I think as educators and parents you could do a lot with it. 

Since it was not memorable to me, however, I will have to give this book three stars.

For more, here are some discussion questions

Discussion Questions

Do you like that Dorko talks to the reader? At one point  Dorko suggests that his life be made into a movie. Do you think this story would make a good movie? If your life was a movie, who would play you? Would it be a comedy, drama, or action?

Is magic real?  What is magic? Dorko says that the stage is the most important part of a magical act & that details matter. He also goes onto say that timing is everything. What does this mean? Do you agree or disagree with Dorko?

What is a stereotypical grandma like? What makes Dorko’s grandma different? Why does she call everyone “trixie?”

Dorko’s mom often gets busy and forgets to tell Dorko important things (like how his grandma is staying with them). How do you think his mom should have approached this differently?

Dorko is upset that his parents didn’t have enough to pay for cable & he had to go to the library for movies. What things does your library offer?

When Grandma Melvin visits Dorko’s class, she makes it look like he stole from her. Why does she do this? What would you have done if your grandma did this to you?

Grandma Melvin stopped doing magic due to a tragic event.
Why did this stop  her from doing magic?

Over the course of the book, Dorko’s relationship with his Grandmother changes. How does it change? Cat also has a special relationship with Grandma Melvin.
What does Cat think of her? Are Cat and Grandma Melvin alike? *Bonus* What is   your grandmother like?

Dorko’s is passionate about magic. What are some of your interests or talents?

Dorko got his nickname from a class bully. Do you have any nicknames?  If  you do, how did you get your nickname? 

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What did you think of it?

Until next time,


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