A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shannon Messenger's debut novel, Keeper of the Lost Cities, is imaginative, well-crafted, and engaging, with a strong girl protagonist and plenty of interesting supporting characters. From the beginning, 12-year-old Sophie is in danger from forces threatened by her existence, and only gradually becomes aware of them in scary incidents, including multiple kidnapping attempts. In addition, she's traumatized by being torn from the human family that raised her and transported to the elf world to start a completely different life, and this is portrayed so effectively that it may be too emotionally intense for some young readers. With those caveats, the book has much to offer in the way of imaginative issues and plot twists, not to mention credible, appealing role models showing loyalty, friendship, and courage.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Twelve-year-old Sophie has been telepathic since she was 5, and it's brought her nothing but trouble, from perennial migraines to the social difficulties of being a prodigy in school. She's kept her talent to herself, as her lovably ordinary family would not understand it. Then one day on a field trip to the museum, she meets a strikingly good-looking boy who's also a telepath -- and informs her that she's actually not human, she's an elf who's been hidden in the human world. Soon she's whisked away forever from her family and transported to the elf world, where she must cope with hazards from would-be abductors to the pitfalls of middle school, all while trying to fit in and understand who she is.
Is it any good?
The first in a new series by Shannon Messenger, this book is imaginative, well-conceived and well-written, with believable, complex characters and a fully realized fantasy world parallel to our own. Friendship, family bonds, and trying to do the right thing in difficult circumstances all come to the fore as Sophie and her friends try to figure out the mystery of her origin and face unexpected dangers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Sophie being forced to leave her family forever without saying good-bye. If you were in her situation, would you do the same thing?
What other books have you read or movies you've seen feature elves? Why do you think elf stories are popular?
If it turned out that you weren't human and actually belonged in another world entirely, what would that world be like?
- Author: Shannon Messenger
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Aladdin
- Publication date: October 2, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 496
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 27, 2021
Our editors recommend
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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.