A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Always October, by prolific children's author Bruce Coville, is about two young friends -- Jacob Doolittle and Lily Harker -- who discover a parallel world of monsters and must rescue a baby. Narrated by the two kids (they alternate chapters), the novel is fundamentally all plot. Challenge follows challenge at a rapid pace, so dangerous situations are resolved fairly quickly, but the monsters -- many of which are huge, fanged, menacing creatures -- can be very frightening. In some parts of the book, Jacob and Lily have reason to believe that one or more of their friends has been killed or trapped by monsters. Coville creates an age-appropriate monster world, but some kids may find this book too scary, or at least too scary for bedtime.
What's the story?
ALWAYS OCTOBER, by prolific children's writer Bruce Coville, tells a fast-paced adventure story about middle school-age friends Jacob Doolittle and Lily Harker. Lily, an orphan, lives with her grandpa, who's caretaker at a cemetery. Jake, who lives with his mom, has an unusual family history: His grandfather, Arthur Doolittle, a famous author of horror stories, disappeared when Jake's dad was 10. Jake's dad also vanished without a trace a couple of years before the book begins. When a baby is abandoned on the Doolittles' doorstep, very strange things begin happening in Jake's house, and the two friends discover that Arthur Doolittle's books may not be entirely fictional.
Is it any good?
Always October starts with an inventive premise, but the book lacks nuance and character development. The plot moves very quickly in a way that probably appeals to some kids, but, likewise, there's little buildup to create real suspense, and there's little time for either the characters or the reader to marvel at this entirely new monster world. The most meaningful aspect of the book is the charming connection between Jacob and his adopted brother, Little Dumpling; the baby is described very sweetly, and readers do come to care about him and root for Jake and Lily to save him.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Author: Bruce Coville
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date: August 28, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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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.