Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

tTe Tightning ThiefThis is a story that I saw on Amazon as a recommendation for people who liked Inkheart, so I figured I’d check it out.
 
Written in the first person, there are a few places that are a bit off, but overall it is written quite well. The mix of mythological characters, inside the setting of the modern world, is an original concept as far as I know. At least, how it is done in this book.
 
This is a great story for kids with ADHD and/or other learning disabilities. As having been one of “these kids” myself, I can appreciate Jackson’s messages of encouragement.
 
Story overview:

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson, a kid struggling with ADHD and dyslexia, is constantly finding himself in trouble and getting kicked out of different schools. But one day, something amazing happens at the school he currently attends; he finds himself using a magical sword to protect himself against one of his teachers, who just so happens to be a Fury in disguise.
 
This doesn’t keep him from getting banned from, yet again, another school, and so he goes back home, accompanied by his friend Grover. Receiving a less than ideal greeting from his stepfather, Gabe, Percy is at least able to go on a camping trip with his beloved mother, Sally Jackson. But the trip goes bad and Percy finds himself trying to escape a minotaur, who destroys their car and injures Grover. And all though Percy ends up killing the beast, it was too late to prevent the mysterious death of his mother.
 
Percy wakes up in a cabin, which is in a special camp for “Half Bloods.” He discovers that his father was a god, and, in order to stop a war between the gods, he ends up going on a quest in search of Zeus’ master bolt, which was supposedly stolen by Hades. Accompanying him are: Grover, his goat-like friend, and Annabeth, the twelve-year-old half-blood daughter of Athena. With only words from an oracle’s prophecy as his guide, Percy faces many adventures before reaching the new Olympus and seeing his father for the first time.
 
My thoughts:

At first, I wasn’t sure about the story, but I kept with it. I was glad I did. By the end I was hooked. I will be reading the next one in the series in the coming months. Oh, and Ares as a biker? Nice touch!
 
Things to consider:

This story covers mythological gods, but it makes a distinction between “god” and “God.” Keep in mind that this is a fictitious telling of old gods in a modern setting, do not take it literal as if it’s trying to say that they are real beings. This book would be good for pre-teens (tweens) +, and for both girls and boys; though more so towards boys. There’s no bad language, sexual situations, or excessive gore, however there is plenty of action violence.
 
Opportunities for discussion:

There are several elements in this story that are good discussion points: Pride, arrogance, manipulation, betrayal, deceit, friendship, and family. Among these are attributes of love between parent and child, loyalty, determination, and honor. I particularly liked how Jackson made the main character’s disabilities a strength. Share with your children how people have different gifts and talents, and just because they struggle with others, it doesn’t mean they are stupid. Also, one of the messages here is that sometimes people need to solve their own problems rather than having others do it for them.

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Iron Wok JanI’m going out on a limb here; even though many of the character’s abilities are fantastical, this one really can’t be considered speculative fiction. However, I thought it worth mentioning as I do have a section for manga after all–and manga has become very popular among youth today.
 
Let me start by saying that this is one that I’ve constantly seen on the library shelf. Every time I looked at it I had a hard time making a decision. It’s a manga about . . . cooking?
 
Not being much of a cook myself, this idea did not really appeal to me. Even if I did love to cook, I mean, it’s a manga about . . . cooking . . . okay, so I said that already, but really, the idea seemed so absurd to me that of course I had to give it a shot.
 
Story overview:

Sixteen-year-old Jan shows up at the number 1 Chinese food restaurant in Tokyo Japan. His aggressive demeanor instantly rubs everyone the wrong way, however his talent and skills soon prove him a worthy Chef.
 
Jan’s goal? To become the #1 best Chinese food Chef. How does he go about attempting this? By insulting, challenging, and antagonizing everyone in his path. One being a girl named Kiriko, who is another trainee at the restaurant. She insists that cooking isn’t about “competition” but “heart”.
 
A glimpse into the past shows Jan’s tyrant of a grandfather, which gives us an idea as to why Jan acts the way he does.
 
My thoughts:

I have to say that my mind is not totally made up yet about this one. There was a lot more to the plot and story than I had imagined, and a lot more action than I would have guessed, but I think I need to read a few more before I’m convinced either way (I have the next two volumes at home as we speak). I admit that it’s nice to see a manga that’s not about kung-fu, robots, girls in skimpy school uniforms, or men waiving around big swords. One thing’s for sure: this one’s unique and very original, and its easy to get caught up in the melodrama and bizarre recipes.
 
Things to consider:

The back of the book says thirteen and up, so I’ll stick with that. This seems to be targeting boys, but it’s worth noting that I don’t think it would offend girls at all. Nothing sexual, no extreme violence (save for a suicide scene), and the language is tame.
 
Opportunities for discussion:

This is a good time to challenge your children as to what their motives are in life. Do they do things based on heart? Pride? Competition? Motives are an important topic, and this manga does a great job at addressing that.

Rave Master v.1I’ve found that a good way to discover new stories is to just grab something that looks interesting off the library shelf. At times this has been successful and others not so much, but overall it’s worth the chance.
 
Rave Master is one of those that fit into the first category. When looking through the manga shelf, I saw that there were several available books in this series. I had gotten sick of finding a good manga, only to realize that the next volume is not available or has a long delay before being released. So I took a chance on this one, knowing that if I want to continue, I can.
 
At first, when looking at the cover, there were two things that made me hesitate. (1) the name RAVE MASTER is as close to cheesy as anything I’ve seen, and (2) the picture of a ridiculous “cutesy” looking creature, with a big round head and a snow cone nose, made me want to hurl, but flipping through the pages, seeing clips of the main character, and heck, it was free, so I went ahead and grabbed it. And I’m glad I did.
 
Story overview:

A sixteen-year-old boy named Haru lives on an island with his sister, and what looks to be a talking sunflower that is attached to the outside of their house.
 
When Haru’s sister visits their mother’s grave, he is out fishing for food. To his dismay, rather than catching a taste fish, a strange dog-like creature emerges from the water and follows Haru home. At first he wasn’t too keen on the animal, but it quickly grew on the boy and joins him when he goes into town.
 
In town, while hanging out at his favorite food establishment–and getting laughed at by the owner–Haru is taken aback when an old man named Shiba barges into the store. They quickly become friends, and Haru finds himself protecting the old man with the help of a stone he is given called Rave. Shiba realizes that he is no longer the chosen carrier of the magical stone, as it had chosen Haru as its new master. But can Haru go on a quest and fight against the dreaded Demon Card organization? Can he rid the world of the evil power of the Dark Stone? Or will he have to stay on the island to protect his sister?
 
My thoughts:

I love the humor in the story and the character attributes of Haru. He is very considerate, noble, yet humble; and kicks butt too. Not only that, but he doesn’t have totally off-the-wall anime hair (thank goodness). I will for sure be acquiring the next book in the series.
 
Things to consider:

There are violence scenes with blood spilling (but no “guts” type gore). So far there are no scantily dressed girls, which are common in manga, nor foul language. I would rate this for pre-teens and note that it is geared more towards boys.
 
Opportunities for discussion:

The main character’s example shows that one should not abandon a friend in need. In addition there’s a good opportunity to discuss when it is and isn’t good to give up something  important for the sake of someone else.