Story Time

Common Sense Media says

Tangents confuse the plot, and the point.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Kate is sexually harassed.

Violence

A lot of weird supernatural violence: people imploding, bodies in coolers, injuries, murder.

Sex

References to masturbation, taking off clothes, and sexual harassment.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the main subject, standardized testing, is somewhat obscured. Instead readers get a lot of weird supernatural violence: people imploding, bodies in
coolers, injuries, murder. There are also references to masturbation, taking off clothes, and a character is sexually harassed.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

George is pretty excited when he gets a letter inviting him to attend The Whitttaker Magnet School, "an experimental, college-prep charter school." His older niece, Kate, is less thrilled when she is accepted too, especially when she finds out that her house has been redistricted so that she has no choice. Once there they discover that the entire curriculum consists of boosting their test scores by sitting in windowless basement rooms taking standardized tests from every state.

But there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye, including haunted books, a visit by the First Lady, advanced military weapons, revisionist history, lethal town politics, and an unexplained series of injuries and deaths. It's a school with a lot going on, almost none of it educational.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

No one would ever accuse Edward Bloor of writing ordinary stories. Here, though, his scattershot technique works less well, as the supernatural, broad, and very black humor simply overwhelms the main plot -- and the point.

The flap copy refers primarily to the story about the school and testing, so readers may be disappointed that there's so little about it, though some may enjoy the supernatural shenanigans. But even those seem at times to make little sense, the humor is often too broad to be really funny, and the author often seems to be flailing around, trying to figure out where to go. The subject of standardized testing would seem like a rich literary vein to mine, but, alas, Bloor goes off at a tangent, and never seems to make it back.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about standardized testing. Do you think there's too much focus on such tests? What's at stake with this kind of testing? What other ways could schools and governments assess students' progress?

Book details

Author:Edward Bloor
Genre:School
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Harcourt Brace
Publication date:December 12, 2004
Number of pages:424

This review of Story Time was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 
Im still reading this book for book bowl its a very good book. Some parts can be kind of scary but over all so far its a awsome book!
Teen, 14 years old Written bybibliophile April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 
Teen, 13 years old Written bym1 November 25, 2008
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Entertaining Horror Novel

This is one of the weirdest books I've ever read. It is too confusing to be a great book, and the scares, even though creatively constructed, are low on suspense.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?
Thanks – we appreciate your feedback!

Common Sense Kids Action