A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
School of the Dead makes good use of its San Francisco setting, providing vivid details about the city.
The distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion. Good friends can protect each other from danger.
Positive Role Models
Tony Gilbert isn't always completely honest with his parents about where he's going and why, but he's basically a good kid: brave, resourceful, and not willing to let someone else suffer in his place.
Violence & Scariness
Tony clubs an assailant in self-defense when ghosts chase him and attempt to steal his soul.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Tony's mildly flirtatious with his new friend Lilly.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that School of the Dead is a middle-grade ghost story by Newbery Medal winner Avi (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, City of Orphans, and many other novels) set in San Francisco. There's plenty of action and suspense, but most readers will not find the plot too intense or scary. The level of violence is very low, limited to the climax, when the main character is chased by soul-stealing ghosts. Sexual content is limited to very mild flirting.
Is It Any Good?
With a vivid San Francisco setting and a strong main character intent on solving a twisted mystery, this school-based ghost story will cast a spell on middle-grade readers. Author Avi knows how to devise a haunting plot with high suspense and unforeseeable surprises. As Tony tries to make sense of the supernatural aspects of the Penda School, some of his theorizing seems a bit repetitive, putting the brakes on the story from time to time. More engrossing are the well-choreographed action scenes, when the living must face off against the dead.
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.