A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lodestar is the fifth installment in Shannon Messenger's hugely popular Keeper of the Lost Cities series. There's no rest here for genetically engineered elf heroine-between-two-worlds Sophie, now 14, as she and her friends use brains, talent, teamwork, and superpowers to protect both the elvin and the human worlds from evil forces and dark conspiracies. Violence and betrayal are part of this cosmic conflict. There's the occasional flicker of romantic interest between Sophie and a couple of her male friends, and she'll often hold hands with one or the other for moral support when performing some magical task. An anticipated kiss doesn't happen. Beloved characters die and others sustain grave injury, physical and mental. Some kids are dealing with the effects of having abusive or neglectful parents. Through it all, there are many positive messages about teamwork, friendship, kindness, courage, doing the right thing -- and trying hard to figure out what that is.
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Sophie Foster has returned to the Lost Cities and her loylties are pushed to the limet, the line between friend and enimy is blured.
What's the story?
The opening of LODESTAR finds Sophie Foster, now 14, back from exile with most of her friends and headed back to the elvin Foxfire Academy. Bad-boy Keefe has defected to the evil Neverseen -- or is something else going on? In any case, there's little time for magical school fun, as the kids and their adult allies must use all their talents, powers, clever thinking, and kind hearts to defeat dark forces and save their world. Mortal combat, treachery, telepathic destruction, and heroic feats ensue. Also glitter.
Is it any good?
En route to a huge cliffhanger, Shannon Messenger delivers plenty of social anxieties, thrilling adventures, magical creatures, and fashion makeovers as Sophie Foster's elvin epic continues. As we've come to expect from the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, the plot jumps quickly from one deadly peril to the next, and the underlying issues -- from middle school-type troubles and dysfunctional families to the building of strong communities -- resonate with what's going on in the readers' own worlds.
Supporting characters are often cartoonishly one-note, and Sophie seems to acquire new powers just when the plot requires it here and there. But Lodestar is a good fun read, and her fans will enjoy cheering her on.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stories of kids with magical powers, like Lodestar. Why are they so popular? And why, even in magical worlds where people are working really hard and using their powers for good, does there always seem to be a villain trying to ruin everything?
How do you think Lodestar compares with earlier books in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series? Have any of the plot developments surprised you?
Do you think there would be downsides to having a magical power? What might go wrong? What would be really, really great?
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