There were sit-ins, bus boycotts, and laws demanding equality, but Franklin wasn’t surprised when people still shoved him into lockers and refused to socialize with him because of the color of the skin. It was the way things were.
In his dreams, things were different. He had respect, friendship, and POWER!
When he starts a new school and meets Maddie, he realizes that not all dreams are fantasy.
Song For This Book: Fight Song by Rachel Platten
Why? This book has the characters fighting for a lot of things, while coming to terms with their abilities and the reality of their situations, so I felt the song was appropriate.
I received an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Before we get started, please take a minute to go look at that cover. Isn’t it gorgeous? Why didn’t middle grade books have covers like that when I was middle grade-aged?
So this book is about two kids, Franklin and Maddie, who visit a magical world every night after they’ve gone to sleep. While there, they work on their skills, battle each other, and learn from the adults there. But when Franklin changes schools and sees Maddie while awake, he starts to realize that maybe it’s more than just a dream world. And maybe the pair of them are more important than they could have realized.
I don’t think a book has ever made me stop and think about how I feel about it as much as this one has. For one hundred pages, there is a lot going on, and a lot of heavy themes for that age range. I almost had to take it apart in my head in order to get my thoughts straight enough to be able to put anything into words. And I mean this in the best way possible – books should make you think, especially when you tackle some big subjects such as race.
The Good Points of The Magician’s Dream:
I absolutely love the magical world that Mathis has created. It’s honestly one of the most creative ideas that I’ve come across in fantasy, and it is so perfect for a middle grade novel. What middle grader doesn’t want to go to a magical world every time they fall asleep?
This book does not sound like it’s written to be at a middle grader’s level. It’s appropriately worded and set up that it wouldn’t be difficult for that age range to read, but it doesn’t talk down to them either. And if you want to keep kids reading, talking to them like people is the way to do it.
The race issues were handled well in this book, especially considering the time in which this book is set. Maybe it was a little much for kids to understand, but at the same time, not telling kids the truth about things is far more detrimental. I liked that there were no good guys or bad guys in this story, just people trying to do the best they can with what they were raised to believe. And the emphasis on personal growth, choice, and the fact that we all have to figure things out for ourselves in this story is great.
The two main characters, Franklin and Maddie, are wonderful. It’s hard to develop one character in a hundred pages, let alone two, but Mathis does it well. They come across well rounded and unique. I would have liked to know more about them, but they worked great for the length of this story.
The Downsides of The Magician’s Dream:
I knew this book was set in the 60s, but sometimes it seemed like things just didn’t fit. The attitudes of many minor characters worked, but without that, it honestly could have been any point in the last 70 odd years. For much of the book, it was easy to forget when it was set.
This book could have been a little longer. It would have been nice to have a bit more time getting to know the characters and their awake and asleep realities. There were a few things that seemed out of the blue, because I just didn’t have enough time or information to feel like it made sense.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book, and I think it’s a great one if you want to introduce the subject of racial differences of the time to a middle grade kid. You’ll probably have to explain it a bit, but it’s a great place to start. The writing is great and the fantasy world is absolutely brilliant. Definitely one you should check out.