Recommendation: *** (3-stars)
Positives: A great book for a young mystery lover. While some of the story is predictable, there are plenty of interesting plot twists to keep young readers engaged. I also loved the comedy that was included in this story to balance the seriousness of the story. I loved when Theo went to animal court to "rescue" his friends parrot.
Negatives: Theo and his friend are deceptive to their parents when they come up with a plan to rescue April. They justify it by saying their parents will be happy with the end result. I was glad to see that he did wrestle with this decision though.
Talking Points: Truth. It is a difficult thing these days for kids to grasp. They are being told from every which direction that there is no truth, or that they can create their own truth, and that truth is not important. We need to help them understand that there is a source of truth - God's Word (John 17:17) and that it is to be taken seriously. As I mentioned above, I was glad to see that Theo at least wrestled with misleading his parents, but ultimately he did choose the path of deception and that is never the right choice. We must help our children see and understand that truth is important because it is part of God's character. Jesus calls himself "truth" - it is what He is (John 14:6). The Bible is clear about how God feels about lying and deception as well. Read some of these passages and help your child understand the importance of truth (Ex. 20:16; Prov. 6:17; Prov. 12:19, 22; Titus 1:1-3; Heb. 6:18; Rev. 21:8) . While Theo was ultimately able to rescue his friend and it seems like everything worked out alright, we must teach our kids that disobedience to God's law never "works out alright."
Age Level: 8 years of age and up