When parents separate, children often feel lost and look for some way to express their feelings. What worked for the family in Patricia MacLachlan’s Waiting for the Magic was a collection of dogs and one cat adopted from the local animal shelter.
Mama is very firm about what she wants, as she announces to William (the narrator) and his younger sister Elinor that
“We’re going to get a dog,” she said firmly.
“Papa never wanted a dog,” I said.“
That’s true,” said
Mama. “Your father is a flawed man. Everyone should have a dog.”
‘flawed’?” asked Elinor from the backseat.
“It means stupid,” said Mama with feeling.
MacLachlan proves that even a separation can contain humor and sense of fun, especially when the animals involved possess special gifts to heal their hurt places and introduce new ways of thinking. Each animal “adopts” one member of the family and the children begin to hear the animals’ surprising thoughts about life.
Illustrator Amy June Bates uses
black-and-white drawings that portray the animals in realistic settings, almost
as if she held up a camera to photograph the smiling animal and human faces.
Link to Publishers Weekly interview with Patricia MacLachlan