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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Among the relentless marketing, lots of information (the fine points of sailing, fencing) and vocabulary-enhancing words, such as "lepidopterist," "nostalgic," "embargo," "mechanism," "accentuate."
Strong messages about the value of friendship, teamwork, kindness, apologizing and making it right when you've done wrong, thinking about how your behavior affects others before you act.
Positive Role Models
Villain characters adjusting to life among the good guys learn about courage, kindness, persistence, helpfulness -- and make a few mistakes. King Ben, Lonnie, and others show responsibility, leadership, and creative thinking.
Violence & Scariness
Villain characters bully, steal, and threaten their victims with weapons. Swordplay, piracy, but little real harm to anyone. A lot of humor involving fish guts and other gross substances.
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One reference to toad pee.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rise of the Isle of the Lost is a prequel and basically an extended commercial for Descendants 2, a Disney Channel original movie set to premiere July 21, 2017. (In fact, the book ends with a plug to watch that movie "to find out what happens next.") The book's clever premise -- the ongoing adventures of the teen children of Disney villains, some of whom are trying to adjust to life as good guys among the Disney heroes -- seizes many opportunities to mention Disney characters and quote from its movies. Based as they are on cartoon characters, the 16-year-old heroes in this series act much younger and are often pretty one-note. But the story is entertaining, harmless stuff, and author Melissa de la Cruz takes advantage of the sugarcoating to sneak in lots of educational information, vocabulary-enriching words, and positive messages about teamwork, responsibility, and doing the right thing.
Is It Any Good?
This is a fun read with quite a few educational bits, life lessons, and positive messages snuck in. But the relentless mentions of Disney movie characters smack of marketing -- which may bother some readers or their parents. The characters and situations in Rise of the Isle of the Lost are (not surprisingly) cartoonish, but author Melissa de la Cruz introduces interesting ideas, like how 16-year-old Ben's life is different now that he's king, how he has to place his subjects first -- and the clever compromise he uses to resolve a dispute.
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.