A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this exciting fantasy may motivate children to tackle its greater length and complexity and play imaginative games. The young heroes find themselves in many tense situations: in a flying car, surrounded by giant spiders, and facing a giant serpent with Medusa-like abilities. Two characters are near death in the book's climax, but they survive. Harry and his best friends Ron and Hermione may partake in plenty of rule-breaking at school but they are great role models; fierce and loyal friends 'til the end and willing to do whatever it takes to save their fellow students. Parents who want to learn more about the series (and spin-off movies and games) can read our Harry Potter by Age and Stage article.
What's the story?
Stuck with awful relatives for the summer, Harry is relieved to be rescued by his friend, Ron, and Ron's brothers in a flying car. Back at Hogwarts, Harry discovers that the legendary Chamber of Secrets has been opened by the mysterious Heir of Slytherin, releasing a monster who prowls the halls of the school turning mudbloods (those with non-magic parents) to stone. Suspicion soon falls on Harry, who bears more than a passing similarity to Slytherin, including being a Parseltongue (one with the ability to converse with snakes). But Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, have even more reasons to try to track down the real Heir and stop the monster: Ron's little sister has disappeared, and Harry's friend, the gamekeeper Hagrid, may be more involved than he's letting on.
Is it any good?
Though the formula is similar to the first book, this well-written, exciting sequel keeps kids glued to the page. It breaks no new ground in the series, but the plot is a riveting thrill ride filled with giant man-eating spiders, a ghost who lurks in the girls' bathroom, secret underground vaults, time travel, magical-transformation potions, the near death of several major and minor characters, and a climactic confrontation with the greatest evil wizard of them all, Voldemort. J.K. Rowling excels at twists, turns, and surprises, and many will find the identity of the person who opened the Chamber a complete surprise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about year two at Hogwarts. How is this book different from the first in the series? It's often considered many fans' least favorite Harry Potter book (and movie). Why do you think that is? What could have made the book stand out as one of your favorites? What draws you into your favorite stories?
Before the last books in the series were published, J. K. Rowling said that this book held a big clue to the plot of the finale. Do you know what that clue is? Is it fun to guess what direction the series will go?
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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.