Posts Tagged ‘royalty’
Gammons, Karen. (2011). Prince Andy and the Misfits: Shadow Man. Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing. ISBN 10-9781616636197. Litland.com recommends 14+, appropriate for younger advanced readers.
Publisher’s description: Andy thought he was just an average sixteen-year-old kid… But one day his world is completely turned upside down as he learns the unbelievable truth of his identity: he is the prince of a faraway kingdom called Filligrim in the Valley of the Misfits a magical place where pixies, elves, wizards, and dragons are just as likely to be inhabitants as humans. He was brought to this world following his birth the only way to keep him from being murdered by his evil malicious grandfather. Sounding more like a fairytale than reality, Andy at first thinks he must be dreaming. But then his aunt Gladdy reveals even more astonishing news: his mother, the Queen of the Misfits, is in trouble; she’s been captured by goblins, and it’s up to Andy to rescue her. Still in shock, he makes a decision that will forever alter life as he’s known it. He will return to Filligrim and, with the help of six heroic Misfits, will embark on a mission to save the kingdom from the clutches of evil. In Prince Andy and the Misfits: Shadow Man, Andy encounters one adventure after another as he works to uncover a traitor, rescue the queen from goblins, retrieve a stone of immense power, and solve the mystery surrounding the Shadow Man the sinister mastermind behind it all. And perhaps most importantly, he must ultimately discover if he has the heart to become a true prince.
Land of the free, home of the brave. Now nearly forgotten, these words from our national anthem once were as commonly used as any slang today. And thanks to our free market economy, we aren’t compelled to only read shallow tales mass-produced by a few publishing moguls. We now have many independent authors who are quite good. Which brings us to Prince Andy and the Misfits, another “good ol’ fashioned” story of chivalry, honor, and a dash of romance.
The story’s main character is a popular 16-year old, so this makes the book likeable and of interest to older readers, especially reluctant ones. However, the story line isn’t about high school and so its content is appropriate for all ages.
This doesn’t mean the action scenes are lame by any means. Early on, Elsfur beheads three knockers with his sword! However, in the style of the best of classic literature, our author goes beyond gore, distinguishing for readers a “just” battle. Authority and hierarchy are realistically portrayed, as is clear leadership. The characters experience life lessons that are easily applicable to our own real lives too. And after all, traditionally that was a purpose to good children’s literature :>)
As we follow the misfits in search of the missing Queen Noor, unexpected alliances surface. Perhaps those folks we thought to be the enemy aren’t that bad after all. And with a traitor in the group, not all of the misfits are “good guys” either. Winning the battle doesn’t mean the war is over, and we are left with a cliffhanger leading straight to Book 2 of the series.
If your reader (or you!) like fantasy but found series such as The Lord of the Rings a bit too complex, put a copy of this book under their nose instead :>) From beginning to end, the characters exemplify virtues while also being imperfect and likeable…just like us. Younger advanced readers will enjoy this as well reluctant readers. Speaking equally to boys and girls alike, it makes for a great family book club selection too! See our review against character education criteria for more details at Litland.com .
EXTRA: Purchase the hardcopy of the book, and it provides instructions to download a free audio version too! In addition to benefitting the entire family listening together, or entertaining on car trips, it is also an excellent teaching tool too, helping both advanced and struggling readers.
Bradley, Alan. (2009) The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. New York, NY: Bantam Books, a division of Random House. ISBN 0385343493. Litland recommends readers age teen and adult.
Publishers description: It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”
When is a book a child’s book? When is it adult fiction? And when does it fall into that nebulous in-between category of teen/young adult? In times long past, the age of the character hinted at the story’s audience. But this book, written for adults, has an 11 year old protagonist. Hmm…
One way to determine the reader’s age is to look at the problems or issues dealt with in the story, and how these are portrayed. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is exquisitely detailed in its description, whether it be Flavia’s ongoing dialogue narrating the story (and she is certainly quite a talkative character!) or the description of surroundings and experiences. The deep level of detail paints a realistic picture of the murderous death of one antagonist which is a bit much for elementary and middle school readers. We also have Flavia’s reaction to the death, which is an academic curiosity and intriguant rather than a reaction of humane concern. The reader should already have developed a solid concern for humanity in order to distinguish this character flaw, or uniqueness, about the protagonist. Similarly, other descriptions such as that of the dead bird are intense.
Another way determine reader age is, of course, to look at the difficulty level of the composition; its vocabulary and sentence structure. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie certainly has a doozy of a vocabulary. Flavia has a library available to her with centuries-old texts including dictionaries! So you can expect not just a complex but a very colourful, intriguing dialogue.
And don’t forget the choice of vocabulary for slang! Once it elevates to mild cussing, it elevates to teen level reading. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie does engage occasional profanity common to British slang but which may be totally unknown to American readers: damn (ok, we know that one!), bloody and sod. Even bugger can be considered a “bad” word depending upon its use (but it is used affectionately here so no worries).
And finally, the behaviour of the characters…The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie entails rich descriptions of Flavia’s every move, sensation and vision. It is due to this rich description that the book is better set for older readers. Usually providing a more mature view of the situation, we also see Flavia’s strengths of ingenuity and innovation used in ways that child/tween reader’s mind is not yet developed to properly take in. An example would be Flavia’s poisoning of her older sister’s lipstick via chemical experimentation (which is described as curiously similar to a 45 caliber bullet), and then waiting endlessly for the effects to take root. Humourous to its intended adult market and to teens; not an idea to put into the head of those younger as their stories should maintain context from a child’s innocent perspective.
While teens and adults have sufficient cognition to pick up on the nuances in the story’s dialogue that demonstrate Flavia’s real nature vs. the ‘bratty” attitude exhibited early in the story (and which occasionally flairs up throughout), younger readers may not pick up on these elements. If your younger advanced readers are interested in the book, it would be recommended families read it together, creating opportunity to show kids how to identify these cues (improving their discernment skills, which are important to their own maturation of wisdom). Remember, there are other books for younger advanced readers intended to be for kids, full of fantasy and stimulating their imagination. Let them read kids books while they are still a kid :>)
Now, having expressed in the past that cozy mysteries are my favorite genre, I thoroughly loved this story! The intelligent, precocious Flavia is delightful and by her nature keeps the story moving quickly along yet still rich in detail. An excellent example of story telling, we are fed bits and pieces of the people until we finally have a picture of who these characters really are, and the time in history (1950). As in the best of mystery writing, the clues are covertly hidden in description waiting for us to put it all together. And mixed throughout is the humour, like when describing the age and demeanor of Miss Mountjoy, the retired librarian, as the palace of malice who is so old Noah was still a sailor in her youth.
The import of religion in this character’s life is realistic of the time period and multifaceted. We see the humour, such as the explanation of why, as having been Roman Catholics for hundreds of years, they are attending an Anglican church! It is also used to demonstrate that, in spite of her precociousness, Flavia is well-meaning in intent, continuously judges right vs. wrong, and shows contrition for bad choices. It is a story with clear demarcation of good and bad, while being aesthetically rich in beauty, history, humour and adventure. Great for book clubs, classroom lit analysis, the publisher does have a reader’s guide available too. An excellent, uplifting read and highly recommended! Be sure to read our review against character education criteria at Litland.com too!