A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book features a gay protagonist (though he's still in the closet and doesn't pursue any romantic relationships). Parents should also know that some of the pranks that befall the Dorothys are pretty severe -- one star has an allergic reaction and needs a shot to stay alive, while another has naked pictures posted of her on the school's website. Parents may want to use this latter prank as a reason to review Common Sense Media's tips for being a good digital citizen.
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What's the story?
Bryan prefers to be "a supporting character or background player" at his private school. But when someone begins sabotaging the four -- yes, four -- Dorothys cast in his school's production of Wizard of Oz, Bryan has to take more of lead role to get to the bottom of the mystery and save his best friend, one of the leads.
Is it any good?
This is pretty tame fare in comparison to the author's controversial novel about oral sex, Rainbow Party. Readers may like some of the clever details here: For Bryan's private school's production of Wizard of Oz, four students are cast in the lead role (that makes the rich parents happy); another scene has Bryan and his best friend Sam going to an outrageously large stuffed-animal emporium to pick out Totos for the show. But the pranks being pulled on the Dorothys seem dark in contrast to all the light, funny touches. Is the author trying for the dark comedy of the movie Heathers? This shift in tone makes it hard for readers to know how they should be feeling.
The book is pretty meandering, and the payoff isn't big enough. It's not really a mystery who is behind the crimes -- and readers may be disappointed that nothing really happens to the mean rich girl at the end -- at least, nothing hugely publicly humiliating. They also may be surprised that Bryan discusses his sexuality a bit but remains closeted. But perhaps that will be further developed in the next installment of the series. Yawn.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of the book series. What's fun about reading them? What do publishers have to gain by printing them?
This book features a pretty mean prank: Someone posts naked pictures of a girl on a high school website. Does that seem like something that might actually happen? If you were in charge, how would you keep kids from using the Internet to spread gossip and pull pranks?
For kids who love mystery and suspense
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