Posts Tagged ‘Children’

After having read several of the Artemis Fowl books, and The Wish List, I decided to dig deeper into Eoin Colfer’s works. That’s where I came across Airman, a standalone novel, published in 2008.

Story overview:
In the 19th century (1890s), a ten year old boy named Conor Broekhart is a resident of the Saltee islands (a real place off the Irish coast). A close friend of the young princess, Conor finds himself saving her from a burning building.

Having been knighted and regarded as a hero, Conor trains under a Frenchman named Victor Vigny. For the next four years he learns how to become a brilliant scientist and a great swordsmen.

Unfortunately for Conor, he draws the attention of Marshall Bonvilain. A man who kills the king and frames Conor’s mentor, Victor for the crime—after having killed him too. Bonvilain ships Conor off to the prison island of Little Saltee, while deceiving Conor’s parents into thinking that he was killed protecting the king, and Conor into falsely believing that his parents disowned him because they thought he was involved with the king’s death. Conor spends the next three years living with a new identity and seeking a way to free himself of his terrible fate.

My thoughts:
I thought that the narrator voice was a little heavy in the beginning, but after awhile the story picked up and grabbed my attention. By the end I was anxiously anticipating the outcome. Good read. With a title like Airman, I figured I was going to read a story about a flying boy. Well, there is some of that, but the book closer resembles The Count of Monte Cristo. Prison stories of misunderstanding and identity swamping just never get old.

Things to consider:
Overall, this tale contained no inappropriate content. There’s a few scenes of violence, but nothing that doesn’t fit into the mold of this type of story. No sexual situations or harsh use of language. I recommend for pre-teen and older. Both girls and boys, though, perhaps, slightly more toward boys.

Opportunities for discussion:
Misunderstandings plague the best of us, as it did to Conor. His family believed him to be dead, and he believe that his family didn’t care about him. There are people out there like Bonvilain who are deceptive, but there are also misleading thoughts in our own minds, which can be just as bad. It’s easy to doubt the love of family, but sometimes that has more to do with failing to understand their true feelings. Tell your children that, before they think someone is trying to hurt them (such as a brother or sister), have them take a moment to communicate and try to understand where that person is coming from. In doing so there just might be a change of heart for both parties.

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Here’s a good article from the author of the upcoming Lost Island Smugglers book. He lists ten items to help your tween spend more time reading:

Click here for full article on www.tweenparent.com .

From the article:

“How important is reading to your tween? When we read, we fully engage our imagination. We decide what things look like, smell like, sound like, and taste like. Processes take place in the brain, while reading, that don’t happen any other way. And reading will prepare your child for future success in life.”

Click here for full article on www.tweenparent.com .

The Cat That Made Nothing Something AgainWriter’s Journey gave a nice review of “The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again” and is doing a giveaway. Make a comment at http://www.lynnettebonner.com/blog/?p=208 to win a free 1st edition, signed copy.

From the Web site:

“If you are looking for a fun chapter book for your 7-9 year old to read, this should be on the list! All you have to do is comment at the end of this post [not at Books For Youth, but on the site mentioned above], to have your name entered. The drawing will be held on Friday the 3rd of April. So jump right in! This is a cute, fun story!”

A Wrinkle in TimeMany would consider this a classic story, and understandably so. This was read to me as a kid, but it wasn’t until recently that I picked it up to read for myself. Actually, I listened to the unabridged audio book version, which was read by the author herself.

I can’t help but wonder if Cornelia Funke didn’t borrow a lot of ideas from this story for Inkheart. If you read them both close together you may see what I mean:

A Wrinkle in Time: main character is Meg
Inkheart: main character is Meggie

A Wrinkle in Time: father is mysteriously missing
Inkheart: mother is mysteriously missing

A Wrinkle in Time: a stranger shows up on a stormy night (Mrs. Whatsit)
Inkheart: a stranger shows up on a stormy night (Dustfinger)

And that’s just the beginning…

Story overview:

A bad-tempered teenage girl lives with her mother (who is a scientist), her five-year-old brother (a nascent genius) and two ten-year-old twin brothers (who have very little to do with the story). Where is her father? Well, that’s a mystery as he has been missing for more than a year.

Meg discovers that a tesseract is a fifth-dimensional phenomenon and finds that her father was working on it when he disappeared. She encounters a schoolmate, Calvin O’Keefe, and finds him, herself, and her genius brother, Charles Wallace, traveling through space by means of tesseract with Mrs. Whatsit and her strange, angelic-like friends.

They find that Meg’s father is trapped on the planet Camazotz, which is dominated by a dark and evil force: The Black Thing. They go to rescue him and encounter many strange and peculiar obstacles along the way, one of which is a man with red eyes who casts a hypnotic spell over their minds, and Charles Wallace becomes taken over under its influence, which puts Meg’s love to the test to free both him and her father.

My thoughts:

Madeleine uses some interesting arguments on how her “tesseract” theory works, and there are some interesting worlds that the characters travel to, but personally I had a hard time getting into it. I believe, as a kid, that I enjoyed it. After all the story is very creative in a lot of ways, but it just didn’t do if for me this last time. I didn’t like the cheesy opening, “It was a dark and stormy night” and I just couldn’t get past my dislike for the main character, Meg. She did have a kind heart, but if she was only a little less, well, irritating/obnoxious, I’d probably have liked her a little better. Also, some areas just seemed to lack important details and didn’t pull me into the pages. Still, many people loved this story, so I encourage you to find out for yourself.

Things to consider:

I think the content of this story is appropriate for most ages, however the subject of it may be a little more advanced in understanding. Also there are some frightening situations which may be too much for some kids. I’ll say that 13 is a good age for a child to read on their own, and good for both boys and girls. This book does hold some strong Christian themes in it, so much so that I’ve read complaints about it being “too religious” and “pushy”, but they are most likely coming from “non-Christian” readers.

Opportunities for discussion:

People cannot live as machines, they must be free to be individuals; both friendships and family are very important; and love can prevail over seemingly impossible circumstances.

RedwallI remember one Saturday morning, as I was surfing channels, I happened across a cartoon called “Redwall”. There were mice walking around on their back legs and talking as if they were human. At first I was a little unsure of what to think, but after sticking with it for the entire half hour, I found myself enjoying what I saw. Several weeks and episodes later I was hooked.
 
One day, while browsing a table of books at an “Animal Humane Society” rummage sale, I saw a cover with a little mouse holding a sword and shield. The name “Redwall” jumped out at me and I instantly remembered the cartoon. It was then that I realized the story was first published as a book series, and needless to say, I purchased it right away–for only a buck too. Shortly after, my collection began to expand with other titles from the series.

Story overview:

A horse drawn hay cart, out of control and filled with a band of nasty rats, ends up toppling over not far from a peace loving Church.  However, these rats are anything but peace loving, particularly the evil-one-eyed warlord, Cluny, the Scourge, and so they invade the Church and capture it, taking the residents prisoner.
 
Not far away is, “Redwall Abbey”, which is a place of prosperity and good natured animals. One of which is an awkward little mouse named Matthias.
 
Cluny realizes that the “Redwall Abbey” would be a great fortress, and so he gathers rats, ferrets, stoats, and weasels to take it over. However, the inhabitants, though uneducated in the ways of war, fight to keep the invaders from breaking through their Abbey walls. As Cluny and his gang lay siege, Matthias goes on a mission to recover a legendary weapon to use against Cluny. During his journey, Matthias creates bonds with various animals and finds himself up against many unexpected trials.
 
My thoughts:

This is a cute story. I enjoyed the characters and situations they were put in, particularly the scavenger hunt (to find the legendary sword) that takes place in the Abbey, along with the antics of Basil Stag Hare.
 
Things to consider:

I would say that this story would be good for both girls and boys around the age of eight. There are some violent scenes–much more vividly depicted in the book than in the cartoon, deaths (not in the cartoon that I remember), and a few instances of excessive drinking, but otherwise this is a nice, clean story.
 
Opportunities for discussion:
 
You could share with your children, that even though they may feel a little clumsy and unsure of themselves, God can use them for great things. Also, you can share your thoughts with them on drinking and the need to kill (not murder) in situations of war when protecting the lives of those around you.