“A magical story full of humor and heart.” —Katherine Applegate, Newbery-winning author of The One and Only Ivan
For fans of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom comes an offbeat, comedic spin on the Excalibur legend told from the point of view of a talking dog who wants to be a magician!
Meet Nosewise. He’s spunky. He’s curious. And he’s a dog who can’t understand why his pack mates Merlin and Morgana spend all day practicing magic tricks. If it’s a trick they want, he’s the dog to ask! He can already Sit!, Stay!, and Roll Over!
But there’s no way Nosewise is Stay!ing when his master and best friend, Merlin, is kidnapped. There’s nothing Nosewise won’t do to get Merlin back, even if it means facing the strange Fae people and their magic-eating worms, or tangling with the mysterious Sword in the Stone. But it may take more than sniffing out a spell to do it!
Nosewise’s hilarious escapades and steadfast loyalty get him and his companions through King Arthur’s Dark Ages.
"An entertaining adventure full of humor and magic" –Booklist
"A delightful magical fantasy, perfect for fans of fairy tales, legends, and dogs.” –School Library Journal
"An ingenious and entirely credible (at least dog lovers will agree with this) twist on the familiar tale.” –Kirkus Reviews
"Nosewise is one of the silliest narrators around." —The Bulletin
An Excerpt fromThe Wizard's Dog
All dogs hate doors. They keep you inside when you want to go outside and outside when everyone else is inside. The front door blocks the garden, the kitchen door blocks the water bowl, and the pantry door blocks all the food a dog could ever eat.
But in my house, the worst was the study door.
Bangs, fizzles, pops, and whizzes sounded through the study door, perking my ears. My pack stayed behind the study door all day and kept me locked out. There was a small gap between the door and the floor, where I liked to stick my nose. I smelled burning grass, boiled bones, and sweet nectar.
What are they doing in there? I would wonder.
One hot summer day, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I stood outside the study door and barked my loudest bark. “Woof!”
“Stop that, Nosewise!” I heard Merlin say on the other side.
I didn’t like disobeying Merlin, but I was bored!
My claws slashed at the study door, tearing away splinters. I barked directly into the gap.
The handle above me jiggled and turned. The door swung open, sucking air past my ears. The towering figure of my master, Merlin, stood before me. Long flowing robes rose up from his feet, passed knobby knees and a rounded belly, and finally disappeared under his bushy beard. His eyebrows arched and his long nose bent down at me.
Is he angry? I wondered.
“Nosewise,” he said in a kind voice. He knelt and offered his hand. “Are you feeling abandoned?”
I pressed my forehead into his palm and wagged my tail shamelessly. A warm smile crossed his face.
“Master Merlin, now why’d you open the door?” a voice asked behind him. I looked up and saw my pack mate, Morgana, dangling a glowing stone from a chain. Her little face crinkled and she glanced at me.
When Merlin first brought me to his house in the woods, I found Morgana already living there. She was a little bit bigger than me, and definitely the favored pet. She knew all sorts of tricks like opening doors and getting food down from the pantry. She ate from a plate at the table like Merlin, never from a bowl on the floor. But why was she allowed behind the study door while I was stuck in the den?
“He’s never gotten used to being separated from us,” Merlin said, sighing.
“You’re the one who wanted a dog,” said Morgana. She lowered the glowing stone and slipped it in her front pocket. “This is what a dog is like!”
“I’ve had dogs before, my dear girl. But never one quite as attentive as this.”
“Well, maybe you should let him sit with us,” Morgana said.
“Sit with us? While we work?”
“What harm could he do?”
I looked up at Merlin and wagged my tail.
“Oh ho ho! He knows that puppy face gets him things,” Merlin said, laughing. “Come in before I realize what I’m doing.”
I bounded into the study, the door swinging shut behind me. The air inside was rich with scents: fatty, acidic, moldy, ripe, metallic, sweet, and sour. Rows of tall wooden shelves lined the walls—they were stacked with hundreds of plants, dried animals, soils, and mysteries! My nose went wild with all I was smelling.
“Careful with the potion ingredients!” Morgana said as I scurried about. She tried to grab me with her tiny hands, but I dodged her.
“The ones on the bottom shelves are safe to sniff,” Merlin said, smiling.
I found pollen, tree roots, fish scales, and oils I couldn’t identify. A dish of pickled slugs caught my nose. I’d sampled some live ones I’d found in the garden, but nothing as tangy and sharp-smelling as these. I buried my snout in the pile and slurped them up.
“Nosewise, drop it!” Morgana grabbed me and stuck her fingers in my mouth. She tried to pry open my jaws. “This is disgusting!”
I swallowed the slugs, triumphant.
Morgana sighed and wiped her hands on her tunic. If she wanted the slugs, she should’ve eaten them first!
“Nosewise, come!” Merlin said firmly. I tensed and walked to him.
“Sit,” Merlin said, pointing at the floor. I did as commanded, and he rubbed my head. “If you want to stay with us, you’ll have to behave.” He gave me a stern look, and I wagged my tail guiltily.
“Good boy,” Merlin said, and looked up at Morgana. “Why don’t you start where we last left off? You were channeling light from the stone.”
Morgana took a short breath and pulled the silver chain out of her pocket. At the end was the little glowing rock. My ears perked up. I’d never seen anything like it before.
“I know it’s silly,” Morgana said, glancing at me, “but it makes me a little nervous to have Nosewise watch.”
“Oh, you could have a worse audience than Nosewise.” Merlin smiled and rubbed my head. “What if instead he was a knife-wielding bandit? Or worse, a grumpy old wizard like me?”
Morgana smiled and dangled the silver chain before her face. The stone on the end glimmered.
“Fix what you want in your Mind’s Eye,” Merlin said, pointing his finger in the air.
“A strong beam of light,” Morgana answered.
“And do you have your Certainty?” Merlin asked.
Morgana’s eyebrows knitted together. She gnashed her teeth, and the glowing rock on the chain grew brighter.
Merlin gestured forcefully and gave her words of encouragement. It reminded me of the previous week, when Merlin had taught me how to Sit! He would point at the floor and repeat “Sit! Sit! Sit!” It was confusing at first. Why is he pointing? And what’s this word?
But after some time it dawned on me: butt down, nose up—that’s Sit! Merlin clapped and scratched my ears and gave me little chunks of cheese (my favorite) every time I would Sit! It felt so good to know a trick!
“Take the image and sit it down deep in the seat of your Mind’s Eye,” Merlin commanded.
Ah! There’s the word! I thought.
Was he teaching her to Sit! as well? I’d seen her do it before but not on command. She looked nervous and a little bit frightened, just the way I felt when Merlin was teaching me! Oh, I hoped she would get it soon. She and I were pack mates, after all—once she’d learned, we could Sit! together.
“Strengthen it with your Certainty,” Merlin growled. “Then send it out powerfully through your Asteria!”
“I—I will,” Morgana stuttered back.
Sit! I thought. Morgana, you can do it!
“Go!” Merlin shouted. “Now! Release your Certainty!”
Morgana grunted, and the stone on the chain flashed brightly. A beam of light emerged from the center and sailed across the room like a firefly, then landed on a small writing desk.
Poof! It caught fire! Big flames fluttered up from the wooden desk and jumped to the shelves on the wall. Flowers and herbs blackened into oily smoke. I yipped and scrambled behind Merlin.
“A bit more control!” Merlin shouted, grabbing his staff off the wall. He pointed the handle at the flames, and I saw that a glowing stone was set there too, one I hadn’t noticed before.
Freezing wind blew from it like a miniature blizzard.
The flaming desk and shelves instantly went out, extinguished by icicles that encased them.
My fear subsided. Excitement spread from my nose to my tail, waggling me from side to side.
Sit! was all right and all.
But I wanted to learn that trick.