Pet lovers know that their nonhuman friends are magical beings imbued with preternatural wisdom, and anyone who’s experienced the special bond between humans and animals firsthand is fortunate indeed.
Mama promptly adopts four dogs and a cat when Papa leaves her and their children, 10-year-old Will and 4-year-old Elinor, who’s a natural at magic from the get-go. Readers soon discover that the animals regularly speak to each other and to some of the humans, telepathically. Greek-chorus style, they also comment sagely and often comically on the family’s travails. According to the author's epigraph, only “the young, the old, the brave, the honest, the joyful” understand the magic, and gradually more family members are revealed as able to join in on the “conversations.” The real magic is not only that animals can speak but that they can effect real change in a family—and ultimately save it. MacLachlan shows how this family grows and heals in touching and charming ways, yet she doesn’t shy away from some of the honest emotions surrounding parental separation. She balances some tough issues with sweetness and humor, and there’s a happy, satisfying and cathartic ending, proving that magic is closer than one thinks and is worth the wait.
An endearing testimonial to interspecies family relationships. (Fantasy. 8-12)