A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Most of this installment takes place in an imaginary world, but some real-life information comes along in the process, notably about saving threatened species from extinction.
As we've come to expect from this series, there are strong messages about family, friendship, teamwork, using your talents for good -- and, sometimes, big sacrifice. Kindness, compassion, and courage are core values.
Positive Role Models
Now 14, genetically engineered elf girl Sophie is relatably conflicted and often confused but determined to do the right thing for her loved ones and for the world. She shows courage, loyalty, resourcefulness, and empathy, even when she's out of her depth. Though they're often a bit one-note, her teen friends and the helpful adults of the elf world share a strong bond and a lot of affection as they try to save their world.
Violence & Scariness
With a league of magical villains prepared to stop at nothing, there's the constant threat of death and violence, in the course of which some characters are killed and others mentally destroyed. Home invaders kidnap a family. Also, as treachery emerges in unexpected places, the question of whom to trust -- often with not just your own life but entire worlds -- is a constant worry.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The alicorn (a flying unicorn) is pregnant. Sophie, now 14, is attracted to two very different guys -- both of whom can read her mind. A kiss almost happens but doesn't. While on a mission, teen boys and girls sleep in the same room, with the sleeping bags arranged head to head in a circle. One of the characters is almost old enough for elvin matchmaking customs (mostly meet and greets) to kick in, and he's nervous about it.
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Numerous references to poop and butts, especially the glittery poop and butt of the alicorn. Also occasional mentions of pee, farts. A character talks about kicking another in "the junk."
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Products & Purchases
Mentions of events earlier in the series when they're needed for clarification.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots of magic healing potions, no recreational substance abuse.
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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.
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.
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.