“Waiting for the Magic” is a sweet take on the ubiquitous talking animal story.  Mac Lachlan’s tale with believable characters, both human and animal, is enhanced by the charming illustrations by Amy June Bates.  The novel’s central message is that, for true communication to take place within a family, people need to listen.  And here, in the family of human characters of William and Elinor, listening enables a person to hear the animals as well.

As the book opens, William and Elinor learn that their father has “gone away” to write.  This isn’t the first time it happened, but for William this time is more serious because his father has written a note.  Their mother’s reaction to whole issue is to troop the children off to the local animal shelter where they adopt a small herd of dogs along with a cat.

As the various family members begin to listen to their own feelings and each other’s, they learn that the animals talk to each as well as to the humans.  Naturally (it is a kid’s book, after all), the youngest child is the first to hear and the parents are the last.  (The grandparents seem “tuned in” as well.)  Each of the animals has his or her own personality, and together they provide what this family needs to get through this crisis.

I would whole-heartedly recommend this book to the younger end of this spectrum of readers.  Its blend of the magical and the real provides a delightful balance for those who like animals in their stories, but prefer a contemporary and realistic setting.

Cross-Posted at Camp Read-A-Lot