A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Besides learning some behind-the-scenes secrets of the theatrical world, a little mythology, and a bit about the power of masks, young readers will have the chance to consider an issue that's been around since the time of Plato: What's the role of theater, and pretending in general, in a society? Or should anything that involves unreality just be banned?
There's room for debate on whether stealing from the witch you live with is the right or wrong thing to do, but there are lots of positive messages here about loyalty and love for family, with characters showing unexpected virtues and courage and imagination in times of crisis. Not to mention the rightness of feeling, and being, at home with the people you belong with.
Positive Role Models
Rownie's loyalty and tenacity in searching for his missing brother are admirable, as are his resourcefulness and willingness to learn in new situations. His friends, human and goblin, often appear scary at first but prove to have unexpected positive qualities, including kindness and courage, as well as a sense of humor.
Violence & Scariness
There's a gothic vibe to Goblin Secrets' world; many characters are part flesh, part mechanical, as they've had various body parts replaced by clockwork devices. All the clockwork devices run on "coal," which turns out to be the hearts of living beings, whose hearts have been removed and replaced by machines. Goon-like enforcers pursue Rownie and his friends, with unknown dangers on their minds.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Theatrical performances take place in alehouses and similar venues, but alcohol is not essential to the action.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there's a gothic, steampunk vibe to the world of Goblin Secrets, with sinister, yet often comical, part-clockwork villains and engines fueled by hearts cut from their owners and burned. A tyrannical government forbids theater and deals harshly with any actors it finds. Young hero Rownie sets fateful events in motion by stealing from his witch "grandmother" and running off with a troupe of performing goblins, all in search of his vanished brother, who disappeared after being arrested in the midst of a play. He not only learns a lot about the craft of acting, he also discovers hidden qualities in the people he meets and gains insight into family, friendship, and belonging.
Is It Any Good?
GOBLIN SECRETS delights critics as well as readers for its intriguing world, its characters, their daily adventures, and the struggles they face. As Rownie flees his pursuers, makes new friends, and seeks his missing brother, he also delves into the fascinating world of the theater, where fiction, reality, and magic converge.
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.