Family movie night? There's an app for that
Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Real information is blended with the plot's fantastical facts, but Through the Skylight still teaches readers a great deal about the geography, history, lifestyle, and culture of Venice, Italy, as well as several Italian and Latin words. Kids will also learn about the Crusades, and the worldview that led Europeans to fight "holy wars."
Early in the novel, Jared and his sisters think their dad's focus on history and art is pretty boring, but their adventures teach them that the past offers everyone essential lessons. Loyalty and keeping promises to friends are also an important, and recurring themes.
Positive Role Models
Whether Jared, Shireen, and Miranda realize it or not, their dad is a powerful role model, as his "dull" fascination with art and history reveals key information they'll need to fight their enemies. The kids are also inspired by the magical animals who serve them loyally, and the kids from history -- Rashid, Maria, and Francesca -- who selflessly protect many other captive children.
Violence & Scariness
Most of the book's suspenseful situations don't result in injury, but a couple of scenes involving fantastical creatures are bloody. In one, a dragon is injured and bleeds from his mouth. In another, a living cadaver attacks the dragon. Kids are manhandled and imprisoned, but violence against humans isn't shown, except for once when the kids encounter an injured old man after he was hurt.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Silvio, the faun, uses some bawdy language, referring to "buxom wenches." A character is pregnant, but there's no talk about where babies come from.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
No foul or bigoted language is used, but some characters talk about Jews and Muslims in a way that shows they're considered inferior to Christians.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
A boy wonders how his real-life adventures could be played out as an X-box game.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Sylvio the faun (a fantastical creature) smokes a pipe and drinks wine to excess.
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 Through the Skylight is a time-travel novel that blends fantastical adventures with real facts about Venice's art, history, and geography. Author Ian Baucom sets a realistic modern family -- a mom and dad with two adopted Indian children and one biological daughter -- in a place rich in historical and cultural significance, and teaches his characters, and his readers, much about this magnificent city. Plot points involving the Crusades expose readers to harsh prejudice against Jews and Muslims, but also show the commonality between people of different beliefs and backgrounds. A few violent scenes involving fantasy creatures are bloody, and one chapter is particularly frightening. A wine-swilling faun offers comic relief.
Is It Any Good?
THROUGH THE SKYLIGHT is a suspenseful adventure story full of culturally and historically rich detail. Without being too heavy-handed, the book also addresses ideas of prejudice vs. commonality between people from different faiths, nationalities, and even time periods. This is a very complicated fantasy book, however, where new plot twists, rules, and obstacles are being added up to the every end, to the point where the plot can seem awkward and difficult to follow.
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.