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LABRACADABRA by Jessie Nelson


by Jessie Nelson with Karen Leigh Hopkins & illustrated by Deborah Melmon

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: April 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-670-01251-0
Publisher: Viking

This early chapter book is a beaut of brevity and pacing. The narrator has been told to stay home and clean his room while his parents leave to bring back a surprise. They leave absolutely, positively NO clues. So what's the surprise? A pre-named (Larry!), older, rescued dog arrives with an enormous tail and a very questionable pedigree. "I didn't want to feel sorry for my dog. I wanted a dog I could be proud of. A big dog. A tough dog. A smart dog. Not a used dog." The narrator desperately wants a dog friend, though, so he pulls himself together—and before long, Larry's tail demonstrates that it's not an ordinary appendage. With plenty of illustrations and white space, this five-chapter romp flies along. Situations involve underwear, upchucking, a nerdy cousin, bullying, an angry bee in the car and a mother who raises her left eyebrow when upset (even Larry notices). These misadventures unfold within an idealized setting: a suburban neighborhood, a bedroom with clouds painted on the ceiling and a tree house in the backyard. Transitioning independent readers will enjoy getting to know the unnamed narrator and watching his attitude progress as Larry changes from "a used dog" to "my dog." And they will definitely find themselves wishing for a Labracadabra of their very own. (Fiction. 6-9)