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 fantasy about a neglected boy who moves to a small rural town includes a rich despot who is willing to kill children in order to retain his power and save his own son. The very real prospect of children mysteriously disappearing is disturbing, but as Jack slowly fits the pieces together of just how the town of Hazleton came to be cursed, the excitement overrides the scariness. Wendy's encounter with souls of the long-gone children may be frightening to some, but the girl's refusal to be scared will help sensitive readers feel brave.
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What's the story?
Jack's mother barely notices him as she leaves him at the home of his aunt and uncle, whom he's never met. In fact, Jack is so invisible there's not a trace of him in any family photo. But all that changes when he arrives in Hazlewood, Iowa. The town bully beats him up and the richest man in town wants him dead. But even more important, he makes friends for the first time in his life. As Jack unravels the mysterious history of the town and slowly begins to believe in the magic that his friends claim is at the root of it, the danger mounts.
Is it any good?
Barnhill successfully weaves in the everyday loneliness of a real kid with a town's magical history to make this a fascinating and satisfying page turner. From the beginning, when his mother barely seems to notice him, it's clear that there's something odd about Jack. But no one is more surprised than Jack when people in Hazelwood know more about his destiny than he does.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about
why the Lady split into two halves. Did anything good come of the split?
What do you think gave Wendy the ability to stand up to the town bully and even Mr. Avery? Have you ever been that brave?
Did you find the ending satisfying? Do you think Jack was satisfied with the outcome of his adventures? How about Wendy?
Do you think there's room for a sequel to this story?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fantasy
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