The Postcard

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Postcard Book Poster Image
Unlikely but pleasant mystery with noir overtones.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

With his father in the hospital, Jason lies to his mother to keep her from flying in, lies to the police, and lies to the neighbor who is supposed to take care of him.


A man is shot at, repeatedly hit on the head with blunt objects and knocked out, punched, injured in an explosion (which requires facial reconstruction). Another man is killed in war. Adults threaten children.


Some mild swearing: "hell," "damn," "crap," "smartass," etc.


Car brand mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there is some violence here, but it's mostly played lightly. In order to have the freedom to pursue the mystery, Jason lies to his mother, the police, and the neighbor who is supposed to take care of him.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGood read. February 12, 2012

Good read.

Very well-written story and a fun read. More appropriate for middle school aged kids. The main characters (2 kids) go running through the Tampa area unsupervi... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJsullivan3 December 5, 2011

Great book

Great book, funny, scary, and everything around
Kid, 11 years old May 4, 2011

What's the story?

When the grandmother he has never met dies, Jason joins his father in Florida for the funeral and to pack up her house. After his father falls from a ladder and is hospitalized, Jason finds a series of clues on postcards that lead him to chapters of a '40s noir mystery story that may be about his grandmother and her strange and mysterious past. To add to the intrigue, someone seems to be following him.

Is it any good?

When you reach the end of the book you'll realize that the mystery is rather contrived. But by then you won't really care, because you'll have had such a good time getting there. Adding to the fun is the story-within-a-story, nicely done in the deliberately dreadful style of '40s potboiler detective fiction. Because Jason and his friend Dia have to follow clues to find each chapter, the story is revealed to them (and to the reader) gradually, with much anticipation and cliff-hangers, just as the stories that were once serialized in newspapers and magazines used to do.

As with so many books for kids these days, the editors seem to be on holiday. The book's 358 pages is about 150 pages longer than it needed to be. But Abbott's prose style goes down so effortlessly, and the story is so compelling in a don't-think-too-closely-about-it sort of way, that young readers will hardly notice. This is like one of those mystery weekends -- clever clues, no real danger, a bit of silly melodrama, and absurd but fun characters straight out of B-movie casting. Jason and his family and friends deal with real problems and are likable in a realistic way; the rest is a load of very charming hooey.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the postcard clues and the story chapters they lead to. Wouldn't this be fun to do? What are some other ways to create clues? How could you do this yourself?

Book details

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