A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Facts and history about London's Great Fire in 1666, including excerpts from eyewitness diaries but blended with fantasy elements like a magical cause. A few simple French phrases not translated. London history, geography, and places of interest. Some facts about Samuel Pepys.
Never give up. Trust what your senses are telling you. Treasure isn't always silver and gold. Powerful people always want more power.
Positive Role Models
Jack (13) carefully thinks back and remembers to solve problems. He wants to learn new things and take action but also realizes he's still a kid and needs his parents, too. Gwen (12) is very knowledgeable, practical, and quick-thinking. She's loyal and supportive to Jack but is sometimes impatient when he's slow to figure something out. All of Jack's family model strong bonds of loyalty and family unity.
Violence & Scariness
Fights and peril from magical elements and fantasy creatures like mechanical beetles. Jack's being blackmailed to bring the villain a magical artifact on time or else his father will be killed. Pain and blood rarely mentioned and not described in detail. A hand is cut off with a sword. Jack and his mother deal with Shaw, a 16-year-old who might betray them, by hitting Shaw with a staff to knock him down and zapping him with a stun gun so he's unconscious. Descriptions of the Great Fire of 1666 briefly describe houses and buildings burning, loss of life, and women and children shrieking. Jack is separated from his family for most of the story but there's a safe resolution. Some scary wraiths and skeletons seen in visions.
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Gwen calls Jack a "wally" many times, which is British slang for someone who's smart in some ways but dense in others.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Lost Property Office is the first of a planned fantasy series with a dash of steampunk about a secret society of detectives who track down magical artifacts. Violence is infrequent, not gory, and all but once involves fantasy creatures or magical elements. (The exception is when an older teen is knocked to the ground and zapped with a stun gun to make sure he won't betray the heroes.) Scariness is mostly from tension and suspense, although the Great Fire of 1666 is described, and wraiths and skeletons appear in visions. All of Jack's family model strong bonds of loyalty and family unity. Jack, 13, and Gwen, 12, work well together, blush a few times when they get physically close, and there's one kiss on the cheek.
Is It Any Good?
Veteran thriller author James R. Hannibal puts his talents to good use as he turns to younger readers with this fantasy debut full of action, suspense, and a dash of steampunk for good measure. Clever problem-solving, intriguing and spooky glimpses into London's past, and quirky-but-relatable heroes keep the pages of The Lost Property Office turning just as much as during the tense and taut action sequences. Real-life locations like the London Underground are as skillfully evoked as the delightfully mysterious fantasy locations like the Ministry.
Tweens and middle schoolers looking for fast-paced excitement along with their magical, clockwork fantasy will enjoy this series kickoff, and eagerly await the next installment.
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.