(Book 1 in the Mysterious Benedict Society series)
PG--appropriate for most.
My 12-year-old son and I listened to this as we ran errands around town. It took us a couple of months, but we enjoyed the story for sure. I think he was more enamored with it than I was, but I still felt it was a well-written novel. It has similar themes as the dystopian genre (though technically it's probably not dystopian) but is written at a level children can enjoy without getting scared or upset by apocalyptic scenarios. We especially enjoyed the children's interactions with one another. Their personalities shine through, and their friendship is genuine but real--i.e. full of teasing, fighting, testing...but solid when it matters. My son is already reading me the next book aloud. That's a win for me!
This book has a villian (no worse than any Disney movie) and there are a couple of scenes where they are chased or snatched by the bad guys. Other than this, this book is not scary at all, and compared to almost everything else that is being produced for children, it is downright wholesome.
The children sometimes put one another down or bad mouth others.
The children are sent into an institution to spy, so they sneak around, as well as cheat and lie to cover up what they are doing.