The Misadventures of the Magician's Dog

The
Misadventures
of the
Magician's Dog

FRANCES SACKETT

Copyright © 2013 by Frances Sackett
All Rights Reserved
HOLIDAY HOUSE is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
www.holidayhouse.com

ISBN 978-0-8234-3002-4 (ebook)w
ISBN 978-0-8234-3003-1 (ebook)r

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Sackett, Frances (Frances Elisabeth), 1970–
The misadventures of the magician's dog / by Frances Sackett. — 1st ed.
p. cm.
Summary: On his twelfth birthday, Peter chooses, or is chosen by, a
strange, talking dog that teaches him magic in order that they
might rescue a self-destructive wizard, aided by Peter's younger
sisters, Celia and Izzy.
ISBN 978-0-8234-2869-4 (hardcover)
[1. Magic—Fiction. 2. Dogs—Fiction. 3. Brothers and sisters—
Fiction. 4. Adventure and adventurers—Fiction. 5. Families of military
personnel—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.S1193Mi 2013
 [Fic]—dc23
2012041540

To Alice and Sebastian,
who inspire and delight me.

And to my mother and father,
with gratitude and love.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

If I were to properly thank all the people who've helped me as a writer over the years, my acknowledgements would be longer than this book. That said, Sylvie Frank, you were the real magician here: your insightful edits, comments, and questions made
The Misadventures of the Magician's Dog
into the novel I always wanted it be. Thank you, truly! Thank you too to Julie Amper (my book's lovely stepmother), Mary Cash, and all the wonderful people at Holiday House who believed in this novel until, like the Velveteen Rabbit, it finally became real. As for Sara Crowe: you're the most amazing agent in the universe, and I'm profoundly grateful for your determination to find
The Misadventures of the Magician's Dog
the right home.

Steve Valdez, thank you for the handholding, the foot rubbing, the laughter, and the love. You make me believe that anything is possible. Sebastian Hawn, reading this novel to you was one of the most magical moments in my life: thank you for the brilliant, perfect questions you asked as you listened. Alice Hawn, thank you for always sharing your big, beautiful imagination with me and for bringing so much joy into my life. Mom and Dad, thank you for everything you've done for me—including reading multiple drafts of this novel!—but thank you especially for raising me in a house full of books. Cass Sackett, Molly Sackett, Andy Pasquale, River Pasquale, Sage Pasquale, Evie Sackett, Henry Sackett, and Miles Valdez: I love you all and will be forever grateful for your enthusiasm
and encouragement. I also want to thank the extended and wonderful Sackett clan for their support, and especially my grandmother, Barbara Sackett, who isn't here to see this book get published but who meant the world to me.

Matthea Harvey, I hope you know how deeply grateful I am for your endless faith in me. Julie Shigekuni, you've taught me so much as a writer and a person—and this book wouldn't exist without your daughters. Leonard Chang, thank you for your friendship and insight, and also for making me finish. Deana Sackett, I truly appreciated the time you spent catching so many of my mistakes! Brooke Wirtschafter, thank you for taking walks with me and for being the world's foremost expert on preadolescent boys. Xena Carter, thank you for encouraging me to follow my heart. Graeme Stone, thank you for always making me laugh. I also want to thank Lori Snyder, Dan Horch, Bruce Brodie, Hilary Hattenbach, Josh Hauke, Cindy Lin, Elizabeth Ross, Jason White, Lilliam Rivera, Mary Shannon, Linda Davis, Amy Spiegel, Neal Peyton, David St. Pierre, Anouk Flood, Kirstin Bucci, Rob Casper, Lindsay Cooper, Bob Johnson, Dan Gil, Kimmi Stewart, Karsten Bondy, Jonathan Wilks, Katherine Frame, Jeanne Kuntz, Rita Crayon, Edith Cohn, Michael Storms, Leo Golub, and Kiyomi, Emiko, and Issa Wilks. Some of you read drafts. Some of you just believed in me. I'm profoundly grateful to all of you.

I also want to thank the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. They are the heart and soul of children's book writing, and being a member has given me more than I can measure.

Thank you also to Anatole, who did not have a wart on his nose but who inspired this book nonetheless. Woof.

Finally, thank you to all my readers for sharing Peter's adventures with me. I hope that you find magic dogs of your own (and that you introduce me).

Prologue

That kid? Umm, really?

That's what I think the first time I see him. You would have thought the same thing. I look in my magic water bowl, and there he is, just beneath the surface of the water, lying on his bed and reading. Hair buzzed close to his scalp and round cheeks that still have a tinge of babyish pink even though he's maybe twelve or thirteen. Book held too close to his nose as if he needs glasses but no one's noticed. Not fat, exactly, but sort of smooshy: you know the type of kid I mean, the one who spends his lunch hour in the library playing chess; who looks as if he'd run and hide if a little adventure were to nip him on his bottom. Nothing wrong with a kid like that—but me, I need someone extraordinary. And this kid isn't it.

I eat a dog biscuit and keep watching because—let's be honest—I'm pretty desperate. He reads for another half hour, his expression never changing. Once he scratches his belly, and once he sneezes. I've seen goldfish that were more exciting.

I'm just considering drinking what's left of the water
in the bowl when, in the distance, a phone rings. The boy, hearing it, tenses: he marks his place in his book with his finger and sits up as if he's waiting. His door flies open. A girl, maybe ten, fills the empty space. “Peter, it's Dad! Come on!” Then she's gone.

But the boy—Peter, I now know—doesn't immediately follow. Instead, he waits a moment longer, his book clenched against his chest, his page lost. I try to understand what I'm seeing on his face as he stares at the spot where a moment before his sister stood. Excitement, anger, hurt, yearning? The emotions that flicker across his features seem too complex for a kid his age: a whole story unfolds in those few seconds, and it yanks at my heart in a way I don't expect.

Then he blinks, and his face settles once more into the empty passivity that it showed before. Only I now know how much is hiding behind it.

He stands up and walks out the door, not running like his sister. And for the first time in months, I feel a tiny spark of something that it takes me a minute to recognize as hope.

Maybe
, I think, my tail thumping against the floor.
Just maybe
.

I eat another dog biscuit and keep watching.

Chapter One

The trouble started at dinner the night before Peter Lubinsky's twelfth birthday.

“Next week we have a field trip to the natural history museum,” Peter's ten-year-old sister, Celia, announced as she plopped into her chair. That afternoon she'd spent her allowance on a package of feather hair extensions, and now pink and purple feathers dangled in her brown curls. “We've been studying dinosaurs in science, so we're going to look at dinosaur bones.”

“They're called fossils,” Peter said.

“Whatever,” said Celia. “It'll be totally boring. But I need you to sign my permission slip, Mom, or I'll have to spend the day at the office.”

Peter's mom served Celia a heaping portion of green beans. Then she put an equally generous helping on Peter's plate, nearly covering his meat loaf. “May I have green beans, please?” asked Isabelle, who was six.

“You can have mine,” said Peter.

“Ha, ha,” said his mother. “Here, Izzy.”

“So can I go?” asked Celia.

“Go where?” asked their mom.

“To the museum. Weren't you listening?” Celia demanded.

Peter's mom sighed. “I'm sorry, honey. Of course you can go to the museum. I'm a little distracted—I'm still trying to figure out what we're going to do for Peter's birthday tomorrow.”

Peter's face reddened. “I told you. I don't want to do anything.”

“I know you don't want a proper party. But we have to celebrate somehow.”

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