A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What's the story?
Two years after the end of His Dark Materials, Lyra is a student at Oxford. She is contacted by a witch's daemon who asks for her help in finding an alchemist named Makepeace, who can make a potion to heal the witch. But all is not as it seems, as shown whenever they venture out of doors -- every bird in the city seems determined to attack the daemon. Includes a map, brochure, and postcard.
Is it any good?
This little trifle of a mystery stands on its own well enough, but is really just for the pleasure of fans of the series, His Dark Materials. Lyra and Pantalaimon are such compelling characters that fans will enjoy an excuse to spend a little more time with them. Until the much-anticipated next book in the series, The Book of Dust, is finished, this and Once Upon a Time in the North should help to tide them over.
"Everything means something, ... We just have to find out how to read it," Lyra says to Pan, and one might wonder if that applies to this book as well. Both the story itself and the puzzling, seemingly extraneous clues the author scatters through the book may be hints about the novel to come. On his Web site, the author coyly says, "If you look very closely, you may find some clues about the future course of Lyra's story." So in addition to enjoying the brief plot, fans of the series can have fun poring over the clues and arguing about what it all might mean.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the clues the author drops about upcoming events in Lyra's world. What might be the meaning of the cruise brochure, and the handwritten notation? What is the meaning of the bench on the postcard? Which Oxford is Mary in? Did you find any familiar names in the list of books on the back of the map?