A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know the Going Wild is the first of a middle-grade fantasy trilogy by Lisa McMann (The Unwanteds). As in her other work, there's an intriguing premise (a mysterious bracelet that gives a 12-year-old superpowers -- sometimes), believably complicated characters, and strong positive messages of friendship, family, teamwork, and doing the right thing. There's some scary stuff, as adult characters are kidnapped and imprisoned by a mad scientist, and ninja-suit-wearing goons stalk tweens and try to kidnap them or worse. Also, protagonist Charlie has to start at a new middle school where she doesn't know a soul halfway through sixth grade. The strongest language is a few instances of "crap!" Overall, it's an exciting, relatable series debut with positive values and a major cliffhanger ending.
What's the story?
As GOING WILD opens, a man breaks into a laboratory in the dead of night to steal some devices and is soon captured -- but not before handing something to a mysterious figure who disappears into the darkness. Shortly thereafter, we meet 12-year-old Charlotte (Charlie) Wilde, whose doctor mom's new job has uprooted the family from Chicago to Arizona, in the middle of Charlie's sixth-grade year. Her biologist dad, who's always been the stay-at-home parent, is going back to work. Determined to make the best of it at the new school, Charlie is unpacking her soccer gear when she finds an odd bracelet that seems to be a high-tech sports watch. Figuring it's just what she needs for soccer tryouts, she puts it on. Pretty quickly, things start "going wild," as she suddenly seems to be able to run a lot faster. Her injuries heal up almost instantly. Also, she seems to be able to climb vertical walls. As she comes to terms with the dual challenges of superpowers and middle school, friends and family are there to help -- a good thing, because there's a bad guy out there who wants his bracelet back.
Is it any good?
Best-selling author Lisa McMann's fantasy adventure series is off to a thrilling start as 12-year-old heroes face ninja-suited goons, a mad scientist, and the social minefields of middle school. Suddenly superpowered Charlie and her friends are relatable and appealing, especially because they sometimes do or say things they regret but quickly make things right. Going Wild offers plenty of suspense as the mysterious villain zeroes in on the kids and puts their loved ones in danger. Also plenty of nervous laughs, such as when the kids experiment with heavy lumber and Dumpsters to test Charlie's powers.
All in all, the tweens and their adventures will keep readers riveted and entertained -- right up to the shocking cliffhanger at the end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about superpower stories, specifically those where humans possess special powers from the animal kingdom. Why are those tales so intriguing? In the ones you've read, are there downsides to having these powers, or is it all good?
Do you think it's worse to have to change schools in the middle of the year than at the beginning? What might be harder? What might be easier?
What role does the internet play in Going Wild? How would the story be different if the internet didn't exist?
- Author: Lisa McMann
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Middle School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Harper
- Publication date: September 27, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), 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.