Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

Jeff Hirsch’s debut novel, The Eleventh Plague, was published on September 1, 2011. He spent his school days writing poems, short stories, and directing plays. After that he went to college to study acting and then, eventually, playwriting. Learn more about the author at http://www.jeff-hirsch.com.

Story overview:
In a world mostly destroyed in a past war (World War III), survival became the new way of life. For fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn, this was all he ever knew.

With his mother dead and his grandfather’s recent passing, Stephen and his father continue their lives as scavengers, but not before a group of slavers trap them at the back of an airplane carcass.

After escaping the slavers, Stephen’s father becomes seriously injured. It isn’t until a small group of men find them that they get the help they need. To Stephen’s surprise, he is led into a secret town (Settler’s Landing) where people live as if the war never happened. But when Stephen’s premonition becomes reality, a new war begins, and his life changes forever.

My thoughts:
I was amazed by this book. A page turner all the way. Kept me wanting to find out what happened next. The characters are believable and the story plot captivating. It has a slight flavor of Stephen King’s The Stand, but for a younger audience, much younger. Would highly recommend this to those who like post-apocalyptic tales.

Things to consider:
There are some usages of foul language, mostly in the beginning, and some romantic scenes, but nothing sexual. Action violence, death, and disturbing injuries, but, in my opinion, all these elements contributed to the realism of the story. Even though the reading level is listed at age 12 and up, my best advice is to keep it on an older teen level, 15 or so. The story is geared somewhat more toward boys, but there’s a spirited girl with attitude that is sure to intrigue a female audience.

Opportunities for discussion:
Having lived only to survive for so long, Stephen didn’t know how to react to kindness, but the longer he stayed in the town, the more he saw the good side of humanity. Even then, some of the people there were filled with blind hatred, which he knew was destined to repeat the same mistakes of the past. Ask your youth if they ever saw friends fighting. Then ask them how they felt about it. Who was right and who was wrong? Or did each person contain a mixture of both? Sometimes trying to see multiple perspectives is difficult, but giving a soft word can help to clear up the argument–and in some cases, avoid a war.

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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 .

Kekkaishi v1The author, Yellow Tanabe (nice name, eh?) mentions that when she was a child, her and her friends would play a game in which they pretended to create invisible walls. Their declaration was, “I stretched the barrier from here to there!” And if someone walked into the area, they would get the cold shoulder, as if breaking the most important law of life.

From this imaginative game comes the making of Kekkaishi. In the first volume, we learn that in order to make a barrier, called a kekkai (“protective ward”), a Kekkaishi must perform three acts: (1) say the word “Hoi” to designate a target, (2) say “Joso” to position the Kekkai, and (3) call out “Ketsu” to create the barrier. Once that is established, the user has the option to either say “Kai” to let their prey go, or “Metsu” to destroy it.

Since the first volume is so filled with content—more so than most manga—my brief overview only covers a little bit. So just keep this in mind.

Story overview:

Where a Junior and Senior High School stands, there once towered a castle. Buried deep below the school is the spirit of the master of that castle, who was from the Karasumori clan. He possessed a power that to this day attracts nasty beings called ayakashi. If they spend any significant amount of time in the school grounds, they will grow bigger, more powerful, and dangerous.

Two children, who have special Kekkaishi powers passed down from generation to generation, are designated the guardians of the school. Since ayakashi are creatures of the night these guardians must lose out on a lot of sleep. If that wasn’t enough, it just so happens that their families are in a feud over who should be the true successor. This puts both Yoshimori (age 14) and Tokine (age 16) in an awkward position, as they so often end up working together.

When Yoshimori was nine years old, his naivety lead to the scars on Tokine’s arm. To this day he has two major goals: (1) never allow someone to get hurt in front of him again, and (2) make a castle cake big enough to live in. His dream to build the cake is constantly being overcome by his crotchety grandfather, lack of money, and fighting off ayakashi. As is the case when he finds out that one of Tokine’s teachers happens to posse inhuman powers, and the two of them must put a stop to it.

My thoughts:

The characters are wonderfully designed, the artwork is top rate, and the story is brilliant. A page turner for sure. This is currently one of my favorite manga series.

Things to consider:

I’d target this for boys at around the age of thirteen. There are a few places with slightly crude humor, and ayakashi are often called demons, but remember that demons to the Japanese are more like monsters to us. There is a lot of action violence too, but it’s done with proper cause.

Opportunities for discussion:

Yoshimori shows us that there are times to give second chances and times not to. We must be discerning of such things ourselves. He also shows us how to put someone else above ourselves. Not without emotional insecurities and flaws, his character is noble and pure underneath it all.