A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ali Cross is the first book in a new middle-grade mystery series by best-selling author James Patterson, featuring the son of Patterson's adult-detective series, Alex Cross. Named after Muhammad Ali (and using "Cassius Play" as his online avatar), Ali's determined to follow in his father's crime-solving footsteps. And when his friend Gabriel suddenly disappears, Ali makes it his business to find Gabe and get him back. Ali is smart and tenacious (as his dad says, more pit bull than wise old owl once he's focused on something), and has a strong, loving family to support and help him. Also good friends who help a lot and also make it clear when he's done the wrong thing. Ali does some sneaking out and other things he's been told not to do -- but he's trying to save his friend's life. There's a creepy adult who forces his son, Ali's classmate, into crime, and some scary encounters with bad guys, but good hearts and good cops prevail. A few "butt" references, and one "scumbag."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
ALI CROSS is the youngest son of Alex Cross, the African American detective hero of James Patterson's best-selling adult mystery series, set in Washington, D.C. Ali's determined to follow in his father's footsteps. And, when Gabriel, one of his middle school classmates, goes missing instead of showing up for their regular online game, Ali's determined to find him and bring him back. Ali's dad and stepmom (also a cop) are supportive and the police on the case, but also distracted by a police-brutality court case that could change the family's lives forever. So Ali figures it's mostly on him and his friends to find Gabe.
Is it any good?
James Patterson delivers an appealing hero, engaging characters, plenty of action, and a raft of book recommendations in this series debut featuring the young son of his noted detective Alex Cross. A master storyteller who's determined to make more kids like reading, he's off to a promising start as middle-schooler Ali Cross matches wits with online gamers and real-life criminals in his quest to find and save his missing friend.
"The whole thing was legit creepy, like something out of movies Gabe and I had seen together. He was probably laughing his butt off about this somewhere. I'd kill him later. Just as soon as I made sure he was okay."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about detective stories, and why they're so popular. How does Ali Cross compare to others you've read? Have you ever thought you'd like to be a detective yourself?
Ali's older sibs excel at sports, his older brother plays for the same college that was once home to NBA star Stephen Curry, and his sister's being scouted by colleges. Do you like sports? Are you interested in pursuing an athletic scholarship by getting really good at your favorite sport?
Do you know any kids who are being pressured (or threatened) by family members or others into doing things they know are wrong? Is there anything you can do to help?
- Author: James Patterson
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Middle School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: JIMMY Patterson Books
- Publication date: November 25, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: December 10, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love mystery and middle school stories
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.