A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this novel is more mature than the first book as it deals with a disturbing issue that's more immediate to a teen audience: a missing 13-year-old who may be dead. There are other mature aspects as well, including the discovery of a dead body, an escaped convict who wants to trade information for leniency, dysfunctional, divorcing parents, and teens at a college fraternity party. Theo is not always completely truthful when talking to the police and blatantly lies to his parents, but ultimately he is a heroic character who uses his skills to save his friend.
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What's the story?
Theo’s best friend, 13-year-old April, is missing from her home. Using clues at the scene of the crime, the police determine she hasn’t run away but has been abducted by someone she knows. When April’s distant cousin, who has just escaped from prison, claims to know her whereabouts, the police follow his lead. But Theodore Boone is not so sure. He decides to rely on his sleuthing skill -- and technological know-how -- to find his missing friend.
Is it any good?
Like the first book in the popular series, this novel has a page-turning plot and introduces both complex legal and social issues in a way middle-schoolers can absorb. Indeed, teen fans of the first book might find this book more relevant as it deals with themes such as self-absorbed parents, unhappy homelife, and kids dealing with feelings of abandonment. Though Theo often bends (and even breaks) rules, he is always trying to do the right thing, and readers will admire his heart as well as his brain.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about popular mystery series. How does Theo compare to other detective kids, such as Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, or the Hardy Boys? How has the author updated his protagonist?
Theo is not always completely truthful when talking to the police and lies to his parents. Is it ever OK to lie? What would you do if you promised a friend you would keep her secret?
For kids who love mysteries
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