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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This is mostly a fun mystery, but it does still require reading. Also, the new hybrid format could lead to some interesting discussions; parents could use the questions in our "Families Can Talk About" section to sharpen kids' critical thinking skills.
There is a message here about being brave enough to seek the truth: Two curious teen friends know there is a mystery in Skeleton Creek, and they're determined to find out what it is -- even if Ryan's father may be involved.
Positive Role Models
The two teen protagonists may be disobeying their parents by continuing their investigation -- but readers will appreciate their curiosity, bravery, and connection.
Violence & Scariness
A gruesome accident in which a man's leg is ground up in a machine, a boy is seriously injured in a fall, a man bashes a fish's head against a rock.
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Products & Purchases
Food, soft drink brands mentioned.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book provides links and passwords to Web sites, which provide additional plot. Online, kids will see suspenseful, creepy videos that might be scary to younger or more sensitive readers/viewers, though nothing worse than a skeletal ghost is shown. This is mostly a fun, scary mystery, but there is a message here about being brave enough to seek the truth: Two curious teen friends know there is a mystery in Skeleton Creek, and they're determined to find out what it is -- even if Ryan's father may be involved.
Is It Any Good?
Neither the writing nor the videos are of the highest quality (actually both are very much like something teenagers would make), but together they make a compelling package. The gimmick, if you will, of this book is that it tells only part of the story: the rest is told in a series of online videos, for which readers are given links and passwords at strategic places throughout the story, including the cliffhanger ending. The book is Ryan's journal, and the videos are the ones Sarah makes for Ryan, a mix of Blair Witch Project style frights in the woods and video journals. Together they tell the story, and neither is complete without the other.
Books and movies have had a symbiotic relationship for as long as there have been movies, so it's amazing that no one has done anything quite like this before now. Switching back and forth between the two media is fun, and reluctant readers may be enticed by the gimmick, as well as by the slim, easy-to-read text. A successful launch of what is sure to be a vibrant new genre: the book/video hybrid.
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.