What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Spindlers is best-selling young adult author Lauren Oliver's second foray into the middle-grade genre. An Alice's Adventures in Wonderland-like story about a girl who travels to the underworld "Below" to save her brother's soul from evil, spider-like soul eaters, The Spindlers has some frightening episodes that would scare sensitive younger readers. But tweens familiar with the books of Neil Gaiman and the movies of Tim Burton, or who prefer dark and twisty tales will love this book's depiction of another world right beneath our feet.
What's the story?
In Lauren Oliver's middle-grade adventure, Liza wakes up one morning and realizes that her kid brother Patrick is acting sedate and strange. After giving the not-quite-Patrick some "tests," she realizes that the thing in her house is a changeling; her real brother's soul has been kidnapped by THE SPINDLERS (powerful, evil spider people) and taken "Below." In her basement, Liza finds the hidden passageway to Below, where she encounters a talking giant rat named Mirabella, who acts as Liza's guide to this creepy underworld. In order to save her brother's soul, Liza must reach the spindlers' nests -- a dangerous task -- before the Feast of the Souls. When she finally encounters the spindler queen, Liza will face her greatest challenges -- not only for Patrick's soul but her own.
Is it any good?
Oliver is proving as adept with middle-grade adventures as she has with young adult novels. The Spindlers is a fun and fabulous read for tweens who like their fantasies a bit on the eerie side. Crafted in the same spirit as Lewis Carroll's Alice, L. Frank Baum's Dorothy and Neil Gaiman's Coraline, Oliver's Liza is a plucky young heroine who's willing to face a host of creepy creatures in an alternately whimsical and terrifying underworld, all to save her younger brother. Liza isn't fearless, but she's purposeful; she knows that if she doesn't get to Patrick, he will be lost to her -- and her parents -- forever. It's hard not to root for a sister who's so dedicated to her pesky little brother.
The underworld that Oliver has created is inventive, if occasionally derivative (the moribats sure seem like the Wicked Witch's flying monkeys). The idea of every person having their own dream-bringer -- the nocturni -- is particularly compelling, as are some of the riddles and tests that Liza must master to find Patrick. A tale of friendship and family, of finding your strength and summoning a courage you didn't know you possessed, The Spindlers is an intricately woven adventure that parents and kids will enjoy reading together.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the fantasy genre and how Lauren Oliver's world of Below compares to other storybook lands. How does it compare with Narnia, Oz, or more recent other worlds?
How are parents depicted in The Spindlers? Why does Liza miss how her mother used to be? What lesson can real-life parents learn from Liza's parents?
Do you think this book crosses over for teens and adults? Do you think Oliver writes as well for middle-grade readers as she does for older teens?
|Topics:||Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and sisters|
|Publisher:||HarperCollins Children's Books|
|Publication date:||October 2, 2012|
|Number of pages:||256|
|Publisher's recommended age(s):||8 - 12|
|Read aloud:||8 - 12|
|Read alone:||8 - 12|
|Available on:||Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle|