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Parents' Guide to

The Amazing Adventures of John Smith, Jr., aka Houdini

By Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Relatable, realistic story of a teen boy in a rough 'hood.

The Amazing Adventures of John Smith, Jr., aka Houdini Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

There's a lot to like in this yarn: an engaging hero, a colorful setting peopled with relatable characters, a grounded realism. Author Peter Johnson aims squarely at boys, who probably will nod in agreement with his depiction of a teen boy's world. The publisher recommends it for ages 8 and up, but quite a bit of the content -- references to drugs and alcohol, some sexual innuendo, rude language -- push the reading level higher for most kids.

The narrator, firmly in the fold of a loving, solid family, acts as a safe bridge into a tough environment. He's a great kid, doing the best he can given the circumstances. The supporting characters stretch reality, including a golden-boy older brother and a cartoonishly sleazy politician. Unfortunately, the story putters to a stop after the requisite acknowledgment of Houdini's personal growth: It's a bit of letdown after getting caught up in this boy's life.

Book Details

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