A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Advanced vocabulary sometimes defined; when without definitions may encourage kids to look up the words. Some dinosaur facts. Stymphalian bird as labor of Hercules explained. Gragger explained. Jackaby claims to have a secret dossier written by Charles Darwin documenting fantasy creatures encountered on the Beagle's famous voyage; a fictitious "Supplemental Material" in the back provides further supposed historic detail that big kids and tweens might find believable.
You don't have to choose one path or another; you are the path. The only paths you can't travel are the ones you block yourself; don't let fear of failure prevent you from trying things. "Failure is not the opposite of success -- it's a part of it."
Positive Role Models
Abigail is clever, brave, and loyal. She doesn't think she should have to choose between love and adventure. She likes that others have expectations of her and finds fulfillment in trying to live up to them. Jackaby continues to be a supportive, if eccentric, mentor and demands that she think for herself. Friend Nellie would rather have men's respect than their admiration or affection.
Violence & Scariness
Fantasy violence is infrequent and not gory, but a fantasy creature kills animals and a minor but important character. A battle with a fantasy creature mentions using firearms and other weapons; injuries are mentioned but not described in detail. Blood's mentioned a few times but not described beyond color. The grisly aftermath of livestock eaten by a fantasy creature is described vaguely. A murder investigation includes vague descriptions of dead bodies. Vampires are mentioned. Abigail is friends with a ghost. A man cuffs another on the back of the head; the recipient laughs it off.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Abigail and Charlie engage in mild flirting; people mention their obvious attraction. Minor characters' banter is mildly suggestive, but big kids and tweens may not get the double meanings. One kiss.
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Rare use of "damn" and "hell." "Bastard" as name-calling once.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention of an intoxicated adult as past public nuisance who was jailed overnight. Abigail longs for city sounds, such as drunken singing in the streets after pubs close for the night.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Beastly Bones is the second novel in a potentially limitless fantasy series begun with Jackaby. Reading the first volume will deepen kids' appreciation of the characters, but it's not strictly necessary to understand what's going on here. Violence is infrequent and not gory, although a scary fantasy creature kills livestock for food and one minor but important character. Blood is mentioned but not described beyond color. Abigail and Jackaby live with a friendly but sometimes eerie ghost. A final battle with the fantasy creature narrates fighting with firearms, and a fiery explosion with injuries is mentioned but not described in detail. There's one kiss and some mild flirtation. "Damn" and "hell" are used a couple of times, and there's one use of "ornery bastard." A range of brief facts are provided about several ancient mythologies. Some advanced vocabulary is defined, but kids may be encouraged to look up those that aren't clear from the context. A fictitious "Supplemental Material" section in the back tells about a secret dossier of Charles Darwin that documents fantasy creatures he discovered, which big kids and tweens may find believable.
Is It Any Good?
This second installment continues the spooky, exciting adventures of eccentric detective Jackaby and his plucky teen assistant, Abigail. It's slightly less supernatural and eerie than the first installment, and author William Ritter brings a popular fantasy creature to the forefront yet still delivers plenty of eerie, atmospheric chills and quirky fun. Readers will enjoy watching Jackaby's quirky methods through narrator Abigail's eyes and will relate as she grapples with figuring out which paths to follow, both in life and in solving the mystery.
Fantasy and mystery fans will find the conclusion satisfying while looking forward to further adventures, thanks to the door left open at the very end.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.