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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The terrible impact an invasive species can have on a planet and how the death of one type of organism can snowball into many more problems.
Family means everything. Tread lightly and conscientiously on our planet. A hero doesn't have to look buff and confident in order to be a true hero, they can be scared and worried and still save the day.
Positive Role Models
K2 often feels frightened and lets his twin sister Izzabird call the shots. But his gifts require that he step up and show courage. Izzabird and her stepbrother Theo are usually arguing, but when it's important that they compromise they both decide to let younger sister Mabel be the leader. Eventually a love of family brings all of them together.
The blended family in this story is also mixed race. Stepdad Daniel and his two children Theo and Mabel are Black. K2, Izzabird, and their mother Freya are white. The baby sister Annipeck is mixed race. They also live with their aunts. Theo and Mabel's mother is deceased and Izzabird and K2's father is mostly absent and facing prison time. K2 is dyslexic with an eye patch over a lens of his glasses to correct lazy eye.
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Violence & Scariness
A man gets knocked out for hours from a pulse of electricity. A baby is kidnapped, but not treated poorly. Many threats to kids 8-12 of death and harm that include a bounty hunter with chainsaw and laser hands, a large beast with a barbed tail that shoots poison darts, and Venus flytrap-like plants that imprison beings in pods. A man is gulped down by a giant plant and spit up again. Many mentions that all humans were hunted and killed on the planet the kids visit and that a long war there killed many other creatures. Talk of one parent that died and another that disappeared years ago.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A boy has a crush.
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Products & Purchases
Legos are mentioned often.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A brief mention in a story that a man drank mead.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Which Way to Anywhere is the start of a fantasy series by the author of How to Train Your Dragon. Like that series, this one is both full of whimsy and dangerous creatures and a good pick for reluctant readers who will thoroughly enjoy the many illustrations by author Cressida Cowell. It features a blended family – mom is white and stepfather is Black and they have five kids total – that learns to get along when the baby of the family gets kidnapped and taken to another planet. The stepfather gets knocked unconscious by an electric charge. The tween characters aren't hurt, but they're threatened with death and harm often. There's a scary bounty hunter with chainsaw and laser hands, a large beast with a barbed tail that shoots poison darts, and Venus flytrap-like plants that imprison beings in pods. This story brings home the importance of family and that anyone can be a hero.
Is It Any Good?
This chaotic romp ramps up slowly and has a few too many oddball villains to keep track of, but pulls in reluctant readers with plenty of adventure. Plus, Which Way to Anywhere is generously illustrated by the author in expressive black-and-white drawings throughout. At the heart of the story is a blended family that's divided in many ways and full of secrets. Daniel Smith married into Freya O'Hero's magical family and doesn't know it, though his kids Theo and Mabel suspect. There's some obvious and humorous tells, and it's intergalactic mayhem only a magical family with unique gifts can conjure.
The kidnapping of toddler sibling Annipeck begins to bring the magical and nonmagical halves of the family together. The quest to save her starts late, in the second half of the book, but it's worth the wait. The alien world fascinates and the once-squabbling stepkids discover the power of teamwork as they face off with the too-many villains and some mean plants. More surprises await for this family that both test them and bring them closer together. This wild and satisfying first installment will leave readers wanting more.
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.