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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Tons of intriguing information about historically significant maps, explorers, literature, criminal science, the workings of the legal system, and New York City. Fascinating look at library treasures beyond the familiar bookshelves.
Characters wrestle with the magnitude and morality of lies. Clear feminist message, with a clever young sleuth, a female police commissioner, and a focus on female authors. Joyful appreciation of literature, history, libraries, and the pursuit of knowledge. Some good moral lessons, too: Don't try to strike bargains with responsible adults, privilege without purpose is meaningless, and truth should never be hidden.
Positive Role Models
Devlin is raised by her strong, independent single mom and an unconventional extended family, including her feisty grandmother, a bodyguard, and a young woman rescued from a trafficking ring. Devlin has a keen sense of right and wrong, but she isn't above bending the rules in pursuit of justice: She "borrows" a stranger's skateboard, creates a fake email account to further her investigation, and stretches the truth. Devlin's mom is devoted to the police force and respected by her colleagues. She provides constant support and moral guidance for Devlin, often correcting her when she's impolite. Devlin's grandmother is smart and perceptive and insists on good manners and acting with integrity. Devlin's loyal friends speak up when they think she's making a poor choice.
Violence & Scariness
Children worry about being pursued, and at one point are threatened by a knife-wielding criminal and trapped in the subway system and need to find their way out. Prominent family has constant bodyguard presence. Family friend was rescued from human-trafficking ring.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Into the Lion's Den is the start of a new series starring a smart (and stubborn) 12-year-old sleuth. It's also the first book for young readers by crime novelist Linda Fairstein, known for her Alexandra Cooper books for adults. Devlin Quick is a strong girl being raised by strong, independent women. Her father was killed before she was born, and her family lives under constant guard because her mother is the New York police commissioner. Devlin has a strong sense of justice, but her ends don't always justify her means. She's surrounded by friends and family who offer counsel and guidance. The nature of the crime here -- a thief stealing rare maps from priceless books -- is a springboard for fascinating glimpses into history, library collections, and literature. Children are in mild peril in the story, and two adult characters have an alcoholic drink to unwind.
Is It Any Good?
Crime novelist (and former prosecutor) Linda Fairstein makes the leap to mysteries for young readers with a smart, dogged female sleuth and a whodunit involving stolen library treasures. Into the Lion's Den introduces Devlin Quick, an updated Nancy Drew who can't let a good mystery go. There's a lot to love here, especially for kids who love books and history: Fairstein's page-turner showcases some of the treasures in the New York Public Library and revels in literary history.
Devlin is a great role model, but unfortunately she isn't very relatable. Not only is she exceptionally privileged -- from a wealthy family with powerful connections who send their kids to elite private schools -- but she doesn't sound or act like a believable 12-year-old much of the time. Her close friends provide some welcome, if slight, diversity, but one of the real pleasures here is the intimate, mutually admiring relationship between mother and daughter.
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.