Andrea Beaty's Dorko the Magnificent is the kind of middle-grade book that I love and cherish. The kind that has me giggling the whole way through, wanting to hug its characters, then hitting me with a poignant and well executed emotional punch.Fifth grader Robbie Darko is a magician. The top hat and cape wearing, wand waving, pull a rabbit out of a hat, kind of magician. Robbie uses his magic to escape his less than ideal life: his dad travels too much for his work, his mother must work a stressful job to make ends meet, his little brother is super annoying, and he gets picked on at school. And to make matters even worse, grumpy Grandma Melvyn moves in, taking over Robbie's room. Grandma Melvyn calls everybody Trixie, has a Wicked Wobble Eye, and isn't a big fan of Robbie's. But Robbie discovers that Grandma Melvyn was once a part of a famous magic act and she agrees to give him magic lessons in preparation for the big school talent show. With some patience, understanding, and a lot of magic these two form an unlikely bond.Dorko the Magnificent was a complete joy to read and Andrea Beaty has magic in her words. This is a quick middle-grade read, but it's stuffed with a lot of fun, humor, and heart, and its unforgettable characters shine bright.Beaty charms with Robbie's pitch-perfect and endearing voice and she clearly knows her intended audience well. The humor is giggle inducing, yet smart, and Robbie's misadventures with Grandma Melvyn are as touching as they are amusing. Amidst all the magic, funnies, and fifth-grade woes, Beaty crafts an insightful exploration of real life issues. Beaty touches on subjects like debt, bullying, overworked parents, and death, and does so with thoughtfulness and honesty, and in a way that is both appropriate and comprehensible to young readers.Dorko the Magnificent has a wonderful cast of colorful characters, from unstoppable, magic loving Robbie, unpredictable and witty Grandma Melvin, PB&J taco eating Cat (Robbie's BFF), to an ape of a little brother who chews on everything, and many more. These are unforgettable, lovable, and charming characters that each have of a special shine of their own.I didn't expect this book to move and touch me so much, but it has. I'm always impressed by a book that can make me cry, but a book that can have me smiling while crying is a real gem. This book is a sparkling gem!MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Robbie and Grandma Melvyn have cast a real spell on me and Andrea Beaty needs no wand to make real magic. Dorko the Magnificent will enchant readers of all ages and leave them laughing, thoughtful, and eager to create a little magic of their own.