A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows how a very large, old fashioned full-service department store functions, with many jobs described you rarely see anymore: elevator operator, pneumatic tube operator, doorperson, boiler room attendant, and more. Explains magic boxes, especially the Karminsky Box and how it hides a secret compartment.
If you create a community space where people can be curious and engaged, people will come and people will want to work there for many years. A reminder that fears can be overcome, especially with the help of friends.
Positive Role Models
Zander doesn't follow the typical path of kids in mysteries by keeping secrets from adults who would never believe them. He shows extra integrity by telling his grandmother his discoveries and, when he doesn't follow a rule, he apologizes and feels remorse. He shows courage as he learns to conquer his fear of heights with his friend Natasha.
Zander's dad is from Cameroon and his mom and grandmother are White. Some important store employees are Black: Maaza Tesfaya, the head store detective, and Victoria Hugard in the magic department. Some diversity in family makeup: Natasha is being raised by her stepdad. Also women are in positions of power: Zander's mom is a professor, his grandmother Zina runs the department store and only women in the Winebee family have run the department store for more than 100 years.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
A cruel spirit haunts the store and forces two people to do its bidding, attacking one woman; sabotaging a Ferris wheel that results in a suspenseful rescue and some injuries; breaking things in a boiler room, which almost causes an explosion; and starting a fire, where two people need to be rescued. The main characters are stalked in the dark, threatened, and nearly fall from a great height.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
No name brands mentioned, even though the whole story takes place in a giant department store. Quick mentions of singers.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character explains that he enjoys learning how absinth is made, but doesn't drink.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The World-Famous Nine is a mild mystery that takes place in a fascinating department store from Ben Guterson, author of the popular Winterhouse trilogy. While violence is relatively low, with not-quite accidents taking place all over the store -- a fire, a faulty Ferris Wheel, an attack on a worker we only hear about -- kids with big imaginations may be spooked by the mean spirit at the root of it all, especially when the main characters, Zander and Natasha, are stalked and threatened. Zander is a thoughtful character with a lot of integrity. He doesn't follow the typical path of kids in mysteries by keeping secrets from adults who would never believe them. He always tells his grandmother his discoveries and, when he doesn't follow a rule, he apologizes and feels remorse.
Is It Any Good?
This slightly spooky mystery is rich with retail wonders and curious characters, but a little thin on story. Author Ben Guterson's strength is his quirky-cool settings -- just check out the fantastic Winterhouse trilogy. The Nine department store is a delight, even more so with the rich black-and-white illustrations by Kristina Kister. It will get readers immediately thinking about what adventures they would have if they were lucky enough to have Zina for a grandma, and which of the eccentric Nine employees they would want to visit every day. Like Winterhouse, there are puzzles to solve, but here it's less involved. It takes more effort to find what needs solving than to solve the one puzzle, and the scavenger hunt that follows offers few obstacles or twists of any kind. Plus we know the baddies for most of the book and know exactly what they are after. While the ending excites, it doesn't alter your perceptions the way a mystery should. So readers will leave the Nine not surprised and delighted like they just rode a rooftop Ferris wheel, but generally satisfied, like they found their favorite brand on sale.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.