A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is little to be concerned with here: one character cuts herself rather badly in a fall, and some commercial brands are mentioned.
What's the story?
In this fifth and final book about the eccentric Casson family, Rose, the youngest, is feeling left behind and alone. Her father lives in London, her mother hardly ever comes out of her studio shed, and her older siblings are living teen and adult lives that don't include her. The only people who seem to notice her are her mean teacher and David, her brother's friend who has moved in with them after being kicked out by his own mother. When Rose's friends propose a secret overnight adventure in the zoo, Rose doesn't think it's a good idea, but goes along anyway, a decision which has several surprising consequences.
Is it any good?
Author Hilary McKay has a specialty which she does better than almost anyone -- she writes delightful, humorous, poignant books about charmingly quirky characters. McKay keeps her audience grinning with gentle, clever, and often laugh-out-loud humor that never panders, and that makes readers want to get to know Rose and her friends. Indeed, perhaps the greatest pleasure of this book is getting to know wonderfully spacey and talented Rose and her friends even better, and better than one can in real life, as they grow and change.
Told by Rose in diary form, the story reveals as much about her by the way she describes things as by the things she describes. Consider, for example, how much you learn about Rose in the few sentences below. The book has hardly begun and even readers who have not read the previous books in the series will be starting to feel like they know her and can picture her clearly in their minds. Which gives a double meaning to the name of that first chapter: "Exactly the Sort of Thing I Call Magic."
From the Book:
I especially do not like it when Mr. Spencer is shouting at me. School is no longer a peaceful place where you can catch up on your daydreaming, forget your family (or what is left of your family), and talk about things like Dr. Who and how to stop Global Warming (we all know how but we don't stop it) and if it is okay for boys to wear pink and all those other things we talk about.
School, says Mr. Spencer, is an educational establishment.
And education is learning facts to write down in tests.