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The Real Boy
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Real Boy is an exciting fantasy by Anne Ursu (Breadcrumbs) with magic-laden action and a monster who destroys property and kills people, including a father figure (although not a very loving one). Young Oscar and Callie both are abandoned by the grown-ups who are supposed to care for them, and the kids are forced to navigate difficult situations they're put in due to adult greed. Several kids get very sick, and there's mention of kids who died of sickness in the past.
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What's the story?
Oscar's never felt like he belongs in the world of people. He feels much more comfortable staying with his cats in the magician's cellar and grinding herbs, occasionally venturing into the forest to collect plants. But then his magician master abandons him, and the healer's apprentice, Callie, befriends him. Meanwhile, the villagers and city dwellers are suddenly barraging Oscar with questions: Why did the magician leave? What kind of creature is killing people in the forest? Who is stealing magical items from the village? Most of all, why are the wealthy children of the city suddenly getting sick? Reluctantly at first, but with a growing sense of responsibility, Oscar joins forces with Callie to answer these questions and uncover the secrets of their world's magical history.
Is it any good?
THE REAL BOY weaves in elements of Pinocchio, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and golem folktales to create an engaging original story. It's a tale about the follies of greed and grown-ups who think they deserve to have everything come easily to them without considering the many people who have less than they do.
However, kids don't need to draw parallels to the Occupy movement to enjoy this story: Oscar's a smart, likable character, and if his meekness at first seems like a weakness, Callie's bravery and confidence more than make up for it. As in author Anne Ursu's Breadcrumbs, the pacing is perfect, mixing exciting, magic-laden action with Oscar's inner development from a lonely boy into a brave friend.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Real Boy reflects the digital divide. How are the lives of people without magic similar to the lives of people who don't have technology?
Would you rather have access to the magic in The Real Boy or the technology of today?
How is The Real Boy like a fairy tale?
- Author: Anne Ursu
- Illustrator: Erin McGuire
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Walden Pond Press
- Publication date: September 24, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
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For kids who love fantasy and magic
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.