The Season of Styx Malone

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
The Season of Styx Malone Book Poster Image
Heartwarming story of friendship and adventure.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

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

Educational Value

Brief discussion on the different societal rules for black kids. Caleb recalls what his dad said about avoiding prison as a black kid: "No sudden movements, keep your hands where they can see."

Positive Messages

Stresses the importance of being honest, asking for help when you need it, and being brave enough to stand up for and to your friends. Trust your instincts when something seems wrong.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bobby Gene acts as the conscience of the summer adventure team. He reminds Caleb of their values while still allowing Caleb to make his own decisions. Theire close bond and loyalty as brothers is a great model. They are honest with their parents about the summer's adventures when they finally realize that they need help. They stand up for -- and to -- their friend. There are also strong parental influences: Caleb's mother and father and Mr. Pike all work to hold the boys accountable for their actions while being supportive and allowing them room to grow. Caleb and Bobby Gene are honest in their feelings with Styx as a sign of friendship even when he is less than honest with them. 

Violence & Scariness

A bully threatens other kids with a fight. Someone's injured in an accident and his body is described as twisted and bloody, but he ends up being OK.


Two uses of "damn" and "shizzle." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Season of Styx Malone, by Kekla Magoon (How It Went Down), was named a 2019 Coretta Scott King (Author) Honor Book. It's a kooky adventure tale about two small-town Indiana brothers, Caleb, 10, and Bobby Gene, 11, who come under the influence of a cool but shady 16-year-old neighbor with big secrets. Parents should be prepared to talk about peer pressure, how to make good choices, standing up to friends, and foster care. A boy is injured in and accident, with some blood described, but he ends up OK. "Damn" is used twice.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 and 10-year-old Written bygair March 22, 2020

Mature themes for kids

In this story, two innocent young kids, who are brothers, become friends with a foster child who is a bad influence and teaches them how to be "bad".... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old November 30, 2020

It was ok

My teacher read this to us as a read a loud in 4th grade. It wasn’t anything special, but I can’t say I disliked it. I’m not going to beg you to read it, but I... Continue reading

What's the story?

In  THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE, Caleb wants to experience life beyond his small town in Indiana. With a whole summer of adventure before him, Caleb and his brother, Bobby Gene, encounter Styx Malone, a cool kid with some big secrets. The promise of the Great Escalator Trade (trading a small thing for something better on the way to reaching what your really want, in this case a scooter) tests the kids and their friendships as things get crazier than they ever imagined. Can it get any crazier than trading your baby sister for a bag of fireworks?

Is it any good?

This fun, kooky, madcap adventure is a fun read with nuanced layers and a plot driven by the desire to be something and somewhere else. Author Kekla Magoon kicks off The Season of Styx Malone with a compelling question: Are you special if you're the only one who sees it?

Styx is a shady, older teen character, and Caleb is too trusting, but the twisty intrigue has readers asking important questions about character motivation and decision making. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about peer pressure in The Season of Styx Malone. How much are Caleb's decisions due to his own desires or to the influence of Styx? Have you ever had friends with strong personalities who made it hard to say no? How did you navigate those friendships?

  • Caleb's dad talks about maintaining a scale of optimism. How do you stay positive in life? 

  • Does it count as stealing if you make an unwitting trade? What about withholding information that might make a person change his mind? Is having good morals a clear case of black and white/good and bad, or are there gray areas? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories and diverse characters

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