Dorko the Magnificent

Dorko the Magnificent by Andrea Beatty

Robbie Darko is a magician. An old-school, pull-a-rabbit-out-of-your-hat-style magician. Robbie loves magic and he’s good at it–sort of. Despite his best efforts, passion, and practice, something always goes wrong with his tricks, landing Robbie in trouble. Enter crotchety Grandma Melvyn, who calls everyone “Trixie” and complains about everything. When Grandma Melvyn moves in and takes over his room, Robbie discovers that she was once an internationally renowned magician and learns about the heartache that turned her into a bitter woman. Against all odds, Robbie and Grandma Melvyn form an uneasy alliance to show the world–or at least the kids of Hobson Elementary School–that he is a true magician. Shortly after a successful talent show, Grandma Melvyn performs a final disappearing act, and Robbie learns a little about the true meaning of magic.

Book Worms Discussion Date: August 20, 2015

Discussion Questions

  1. Life isn’t exactly calm in Robbie’s household when this story takes place. What are some new developments in his life? Which changes do you think are hardest for him?  
  2. How does Robbie cope with all the challenges he faces both at home and at school?
  3. When the book opens, Robbie is trying to describe that moment when a magician performs a trick and the audience hasn’t yet had time to react. By the end of the book, Grandma Melvyn helps him realize what that word is and what it really means. What is the word? What’s most important for that to happen — the audience or the performer?
  4. Why does Grandma Melvyn come to stay with Robbie’s family?
  5. What are some things Robbie learns about Grandma Melvyn after she comes to stay with them? How does this change their relationship?
  6. Why does Grandma Melvyn call everyone “Trixie”?
  7. Why do you think it was so hard for Robbie to apologize to Grandma Melvyn when things go wrong?
  8. Give an example of one unexpected result of Robbie’s magic, when things didn’t turn out quite the way he had planned.
  9. How does Robbie’s friend Cat support him in his quest to perform in the magic show?
  10. Robbie’s goal was to dazzle his classmates at the school talent show. Describe how this final performance went. Was it a success? How did Robbie feel after the show?
  11. What happened to Grandma Melvyn after the show? How did Robbie react?

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The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower by Lisa Graff

Harry Houdini: Prince of Air by Ann Hood

Hocus Pocus by Paul Kieve

The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. by Kate Messner

The Misadventures of the Magician’s Dog by Frances Sackett