A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ryan Calejo's Charlie Hernández & The League of Shadows is a fantasy-adventure for tweens that draws heavily on folklore from many Spanish-speaking countries around the world. Charlie's parents are missing so dealing with parental loss is a theme, along with remembering a past destructive house fire and going back to what remains. Lots of positive Latino role models and representations in the characters and in the frequent use of Spanish words and phrases. Lots of peril and fights with fantasy and supernatural beings from folklore, and lots of dark, creepy locations, too. Except for a school bully, all other violence is in the realm of fantasy, but blood's mentioned a few times and pain is described. Youngest readers may need help clarifying the calaca's argument about why folklore and its creatures are real. Rare strong language includes "jackass" and "damn." Lots of gross-out moments like eating worms, messing your pants, and a slobbery, tentacled tongue add tween appeal. Mild feelings of romantic interest and attraction and a couple of hugs. Explores themes about the links between culture and folklore, as well as about accepting yourself and your body as it changes and becomes something weird and new.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
CHARLIE HERNÁNDEZ & THE LEAGUE OF SHADOWS can barely stay a step ahead of the evil forces that want to destroy the barrier between our world and the underworld. Really, all Charlie wants is to find his parents who disappeared suddenly on the same afternoon their house burned down, and to understand the strange things that are happening to his body like growing horns, feathers, and one arm turning into a lobster claw. But each new clue to what's going on only brings another narrow escape from dark, mythical creatures straight out of his grandmother's folk tales. Can he and his new friend (and secret crush) Violet find Queen Joanna and the answers they need before the forces of darkness close in?
Is it any good?
Debut novelist Ryan Calejo brings a refreshing Latino twist to a middle-grade fantasy adventure. And there's lots of appeal for fans of Percy Jackson-type excitement. Charlie Hernández & The League of Shadows move the story along from one close call to the next, until the satisfying ending that leaves the door open for further adventures.
Readers will learn a lot about folklore from both the Old and New Worlds, and tweens will relate to Charlie as he learns to accept himself and his body, and to appreciate his strange, new powers. The structure of the plot gets pretty repetitive, but younger readers likely won't mind as each step along the way features a creepily fascinating figure from ancient folk tales. Dark atmospheres, frequent peril, rare strong language, and many undead or underworld fantasy creatures make it best for tweens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the positive representations in Charlie Hernández & The League of Shadows. Why is it important to read books, watch movies and TV, or play games with diverse characters?
What do you think about the author's use of Spanish words and phrases? If you don't speak Spanish, were you able to figure out the meanings? Does it interupt or enhance the story to use both languages?
What's your favorite myth or story from folklore? Go to the library or try an online search to find lots more, from just about everywhere in the world.
- Author: Ryan Calejo
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Aladdin
- Publication date: October 23, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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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.