A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times is a steampunk fantasy that doesn't have a lot of violence, but what's there is emotionally powerful. Blood is mentioned a few times, executions by hanging are described vaguely, and villains are powerful and scary. The atmosphere of the alternative world Londinium is mysterious and a bit dark, but it's also very intriguing and in the end is uplifted when hope is restored to the people. Hero Jack is a good role model whose conscience guides him to do the right things. Adults drinking brandy are mentioned a few times.
What's the story?
Young Jack, who's almost 11 in the London of 1899, follows a mysterious visitor through a magic doorway. On the other side he finds a fantastic parallel world in which nearly everyone and everything is mechanical in some way -- a dream come true for a kid who's always wanted to know how things work. Ruling over Londinium is the beautiful and powerful Lady, who's chosen Jack to be her new, perfect, human son and brings him to the palace to live with her. If Jack ever wants to return home, his only hope is to find the legendary Gearwing, a magical clockwork bird with the power to grant any wish.
Is it any good?
Emma Trevayne's novel is a delightful, atmospheric, clockwork fantasy that will draw kids into an adventure that combines mystery, excitement, and mechanical marvel. Kids will easily relate to hero Jack's feelings of loneliness and eagerness to learn more about the world around him. The writing has an intriguing rhythm and clever descriptive power that can both draw kids in to read on their own and be fun for adults to read aloud.
Steampunk elements abound, but even if that genre's not your thing, the compelling and charming characters, well-constructed story, and vividly realized fantasy world will appeal to anyone with a sense of adventure and a curiosity about how things work.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why fantasies are so popular. Why do we enjoy reading them so much? How does this book compare with other fantasies you've read?
Do the illustrations help you imagine the world you were reading about? How do they compare with the way you pictured things in your mind?
If you could visit a fantasy world like Londinium, would you want to? Would you want to stay there forever, the way Jack did at first?
- Author: Emma Trevayne
- Illustrator: Glenn Thomas
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: May 13, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 320
- 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.