A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Exile: Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 2 continues Shannon Messenger's exciting series about 12-year-old telepathic elf Sophie Foster. Its strong, appealing girl protagonist faces middle-school social perils, family struggles, and life-threatening dangers in the elf world. As in the first book, Keeper of the Lost Cities, values are positive and upbeat, but characters deal with complex ethical decisions and personal loss. The writing is easily accessible to younger and/or reluctant readers, sweeping them along as the tale unfolds. There are some scary but age-appropriate scenes, including attempted kidnappings, terrifying prisons, and mental torture/collapse as invasive telepathic probes shatter the minds of some characters. One of the magical beings produces glittering, foul-smelling poop, which becomes a recurring joke; there's also brief humor about butts, farts, wedgies, and the like.
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What's the story?
Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster, transported to the elf world in Keeper of the Lost Cities, in which she narrowly escaped death and learned startling secrets about herself, is just hoping for some peace, quiet, and time to hang out with her new friends. But fate -- or maybe the mysterious Black Swan organization, which created Sophie and her unusual powers by engineering her DNA -- has other plans. First there's the discovery of an alicorn, a magical winged horse with a horn on her forehead, who soon is chatting telepathically with Sophie. Struggling to understand the elf world's ways, she worries about her adoptive parents, who still mourn the death of their beloved daughter; then there's the really awful costume she has to wear for the opening ceremonies at school. When a telepathic mission gone wrong shatters the mind of her beloved mentor, Sophie and her friends are determined to bring him back, whatever the cost.
Is it any good?
Exciting, fast-paced, and written at a level that's accessible to newer or reluctant readers, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES: EXILE keeps up the momentum and the spirit of the series' opening volume. Sophie and her friends experience laughs, tears, misunderstandings, suspense, and moral dilemmas as they face many terrors -- and leave more than enough unresolved issues for the next volume, due out fall 2014.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why stories about genetically engineered characters are so popular. How would you feel if you knew you'd been specifically designed by someone? Would it make a difference if you knew why?
Like Harry Potter, Sophie was hidden in the human world to keep her safe. How does her relationship with her human family compare with Harry's relationship with his?
How do the adult characters show both weakness and strength? What happens when they make mistakes? Do you find them believable?
- Author: Shannon Messenger
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Superheroes, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Friendship, Great girl role models, Misfits and underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Aladdin
- Publication date: October 1, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 576
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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For kids who love fantasy and strong girl characters
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