A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's a fair amount of violence here, some rather brutal, though none graphically described. Many deaths occur by a variety of weapons and methods, and a major character is beaten unconsciousness.
What's the story?
Orphaned Carlo, living as an apprentice with his uncle, is given a treasure map by a mysterious bookseller, who promptly vanishes. Finally cast out by his uncle, he makes his way to the Middle East, where he sets out along the Golden Road to find the treasure. Taking up with a lazy and dishonest camel-puller, a girl out for revenge, and a wandering philosopher, he encounters caravans, brigands, violent nomads, and plenty of adventure on the way to discovering what treasure really is.
Is it any good?
Published just a few months after the author's death, Lloyd Alexander's final book is a lighthearted romp through an exotic fairytale landscape from the Arabian Nights. Though his characters for the most part come straight from central casting, Alexander treats them with such warmth and fondness for the foibles of humanity that it's hard to mind. Certainly kids won't -- they'll be delighted, especially by Baksheesh, a big-talking old scoundrel who works hard to hide his good heart.
This is a rousing adventure of the old-fashioned kind; a young man out in the world for the first time, seeking his fortune, and finding exotic locales, villains, heroes, wise men, danger, romance, and his place in the world. It's a travelogue, with humor, suspense, mystery, and a whiff of fantasy; the kind of story that used to keep kids up late at night, under the covers with a flashlight. Can this kind of thing appeal to kids growing up in the modern world of high-tech wizardry and video games? Check for a flickering light under your kid's door after bedtime -- then you'll know.