A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the villains in this book are ridiculously bad authority figures. Over-the-top evil deeds and bad attitudes abound, but good wins out in the end. The broad satire is funny, but the cynicism is what skews the age recommendation to 9. Younger kids will probably enjoy the lighter tone of the animated TV show based on the book series.
What's the story?
Is it any good?
Jacob is a likeable protagonist, and many children will identify with his trials as the youngest in a large family. But these bad guys wouldn't be out of place in a Roald Dahl novel. Some parents may be bothered by a country club president who says, "[W]e have to come to accept a few members who are black or Italian or Jewish or Greek, so long as they are also filthy rich."
The broad satire is funny, but the cynicism is what skews the age recommendation to 9 for this easy-to-read chapter book. It's also more intense and darkly funny than in the friendly, sibling rivalry-focused animated series. This is a satisfyingly quick read -- chapters are usually only two or three pages, and the action moves the plot along at a lively pace. This is a good pick for an otherwise reluctant reader.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the bad guys' motivations. Jacob's enemies aren't always honest about why they want to do things, but it's easy to see their true intentions. Parents can look up the legend of Saint George and the dragon and then discuss why the prime minister wanted to emulate it. They can also ask why the Yes Men and Yes Women always say yes.