The Wig in the Window

Common Sense Media says

Funny, suspenseful tale of smart tween spy girl and friends.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Grace is Chinese-American, and Sophie is fascinated by Chinese culture, so kids will  learn a little about some aspects of it. Sophie frequently quotes Sun Tzu and mentions tai chi moves, and concepts of yin-yang and feng shui are briefly explained. Beginning French vocabulary pops up a few times, and electromagnetic principles are touched on at one point. The book's not intended to educate kids, but it might provide a jumping-off point for further investigation.

Positive messages

The central theme is don't jump to conclusions. Sophie learns this the hard way when her false conclusions cause big problems. Balancing this lesson with that of trusting your instincts, yourself and your friends is something kids will have to think about. (Still, at least one jumped-to conclusion turns out to be correct.)

Positive role models

Sophie, Grace, and Trista are great girl role models:  smart, active, independent, unafraid to act, and in Trista's case, gloriously self-confident. Boy role models fall a bit short. Sophie's crush, Rob, seems nice enough, although we don't get to know him at all. Schoolmate Trent is a full-on bully, mostly verbally, and suffers no consequences for it. Sophie's older brother, Jake, is mainly an annoyance but is capable of showing he cares. Her parents are largely absent, and she spends after-school hours with her nutty grandfather. Most adults are laughable, ineffective, or villainous. But Sophie's and Gracie's parents, while not often seen, are positive influences.

Violence & scariness

The story has mildly violent and scary bookends but the bulk has no violence. An early spying adventure has violent imagery of someone hacking with a cleaver and of blood spattered all around, which is soon revealed to have been harmless. A past incident is related in which a high-school swim team is electrocuted, resulting in three deaths. A large man tackles a young girl, injuring her ribs and shoulders, although not seriously. In one confrontation, the girls are threatened with a gun; shots are heard but no one's injured. Grace is afraid of water, and in a  disturbing incident, she's repeatedly dunked in the ocean by an adult. Sophie knocks the adult unconscious by hitting her in the head with a boot heel.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Wig in the Window is a fun addition to the middle-school-spy-adventure genre, featuring admirable, smart seventh graders Sophie and her friends Grace and Trista, who take action when they suspect someone is up to no good. There's very little violence, though in one scene, a large man tackles a girl, but she's not seriously injured. In another, the girls are threatened with a gun. And in one disturbing incident, a girl is repeatedly dunked in the ocean by an adult before the adult gets knocked unconscious. There's a reference to a high-school swim team that was electrocuted, resulting in three deaths. The book's climax is a bit scary, with the girls in peril, but it's nothing tweens can't handle. Bodily function humor will keep younger readers laughing. There's some verbal bullying without consequences, perhaps because it doesn't seem to bother the bully's target.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Middle-schooler Sophie and best friend Grace love playing spy games. One night as they're out on patrol they think they witness a murder in silhouette through a neighbor's window. It turns out to be something quite different, but once their suspicions are raised about the neighbor, who is the middle-school counselor, Sophie and Grace won't back down until they get to the bottom of things. But in order to do that they're going to have to figure out whom they can trust -- no easy task when people aren't quite who they seem to be -- and whether they can trust themselves.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Deftly written THE WIG IN THE WINDOW is a delightful new addition to the genre of middle-school spy caper. It's funny, Sophie is a likeable and realistic heroine, and the plot will keep kids in suspense. Adults may recognize the similarity to Alfred Hitchcock's great Rear Window, neatly re-imagined for 8-to-12-year-olds.

Impressive first-time author Kristen Kittscher never talks down to kids, yet stays on target for the age group. She keeps the reader guessing without losing the story's thread and provides real page-turner excitement without being too scary or violent.

Families can talk about...

  • Familes can talk about the popularity of spy and detective stories, going all the way back to Sherlock Holmes. What makes them so appealing? Do you think people in the olden days liked them for the same reasons we do today?

  •  

  • Sophie learns it's not a good idea to jump to conclusions. But if her suspicions trun out to be right, what's so bad about jumping to conclusions?

  • Would someone in your school get away with name calling the way Trent does? Do you think his French class nickname bothers Sophie?

Book details

Author:Kristen Kittscher
Genre:Mystery
Topics:Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Friendship, Great girl role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:June 18, 2013
Number of pages:351
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:8 - 12
Read alone:8 - 12
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of The Wig in the Window was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Poll

What are the different ways that you access Common Sense Media ratings and information? (Check all that apply)

Essential Apps Guide