All parent member reviews for The Secret of the Painted House

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Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written bypeony April 9, 2008

Not for younger kids: fire-setting, no water safety, sad/menacing ghost

Reserve this for an older kid (10+?) reading below grade level, as a book that though relatively simple to read will hold an older kid's interest. The book is well written, with a quite clever, very well-executed premise (of going deeper into into a receding series of paintings), and with numerous good illustrations adding to the story. But I do not recommend it for younger kids. Emily leaves her 4 year old brother alone in the woods next to a stream -- no water safety message there. And I am wary of any fire-setting theme in a book for young kids: here the ghost girl is described as having died in what was perhaps a self-set fire, and Emily's 4 year old brother has a habit of going around with matches and their eventual escape is when he (the 4 year old) sets a fire! (Which, by the way, is a clever resolution of their predicament -- I just don't like a positive result to fire-setting by a 4 year old!) And overall, the ghosts are sad and a bit malicious; that faint air of menace will appeal to (especially older) kids, but I don't care for menacing ghosts with younger readers.