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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 Whatnot is even better than its predecessor, Stefan Bachman's debut, The Peculiar, which did most of the stage-setting and world-building that allow the second book to get on with the story. Bachman's writing engages the reader and keeps the pages turning. The enduring bond between siblings Bartholomew and Hettie is emotionally compelling, and there's a strong message of courage, friendship, and perseverance. As with the first book, there are plenty of creepy and violent elements. One character has lost his eye to a faery, and another faery has a whole collection of stolen eyeballs; a villain massacres his enemies; and horrific engines of war come into play, including the cutely menacing device on the cover, designed to dispense poison gas on the battlefield.
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What's the Story?
In The Peculiar, the first book in this series based in steampunk England, changeling (half-human, half-faery) siblings Bartholomew and Hettie Kettle tried to stay alive and avoid evil forces bent on exploiting their abilities. As THE WHATNOT opens, some years have passed. Hettie is being held captive in the faery world, kept as a servant/pet by an aristocratic faery who calls her her \"whatnot,\" while Bartholomew, in England, has never given up looking for his sister. Into their lives stumbles orphan Pikey Thomas, whose eye has been stolen by a faery and who now catches glimpses of Hettie in the faery world. Meanwhile, the humans have driven the faeries from the human world, and an all-out cosmic battle is brewing; trickery, treachery, and magic will play a big role.
Is It Any Good?
The Whatnot takes advantage of the world-building and scene-setting that sometimes bogged things down in The Peculiar and gets on with the story. The conventions and trappings of the book's universe are unabashedly creepy and may be too much for sensitive readers, but the characters, especially Bartholomew, Hettie, and Pikey, are appealing and intriguing as they face deadly challenges. Young author Stefan Bachmann deftly combines humor, heart, and more than a little horror in an engaging, memorable tale.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the appeal of stories wherein our world and another, magical one come together. Why do you think people are fascinated with fairies and fairyland? How does this version compare with others you may have encountered?
Do you think Bartholomew and Hettie did the right thing in refusing to give up their efforts to reunite? Or should they have tried to make the best of the situation and make new lives for themselves?
In this series, faeries use magic and humans use technology to get what they want and defeat their enemies. If you had to use one or the other in your own quest, which would you choose? Why?
- Author: Stefan Bachmann
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Robots
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: September 24, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
Our Editors Recommend
The Witch's Curse
Brother and sister dodge more evil in funny, scary sequel.
Summer & Bird
Wildly imaginative quest to find parents in mythic world.
Fantastic, creepy tale for tweens features fierce big sis.
For kids who love fantasy and magic
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