Monday, March 26, 2012

Truly Imaginative Fiction

Lois Lowry is one of the best writers of kids' fiction that I've ever read.  I truly enjoy her books.  The Birthday Ball, The Giver (and its companions), Young Fredle...  When I open up one of her books, I'm struck by the way she uses words to vividly describe characters and settings.  She is clever in her use of words.

Once in a while, I come across a book that reminds me of her writing.  A few weeks ago, I read a book by a new author, Jennifer Trafton.  It is titled The  Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic.  From the first page, the book held a lot of promise.  The story is extremely imaginative.  It is the story of Persimmony Smudge and her quest to save the island's inhabitants.  It already sounds like there's a story there, doesn't it?

The story begins with Persimmony going to find Theodoore, the potter, to get a new pot because she broke her family's giving pot that gave them the food they needed each day.  She gets sidetracked on her journey and overhears a discussion of treason against the King.  This story has one of those plots that I don't want to explain and go into.  It is clever fantasy novel for children.  And somewhere in this story there's even a... a... well, I won't ruin it and give it away.  So, how can I describe it another way?  Well, it's the story of a girl who wants to prove that she is strong and able.  She wants to know who her father was and understand who she is.  She's always just been the basketweaver's daughter.  So, in the course of her adventures, she is brave and saves the day with the help of some unlikely friends. 

So, here's a quick summary:
Best age group?  4th-6th graders, advanced third grade readers may like it.  There are some pictures, but there's a lot of text.
Reading Level:  4th-8th
Anything to be concerned about?  Worldview?  Language?  There were times as I read this book that I was reminded of Dick King-Smith's books.  He often uses the word "stupid"--it's even in his well known book Babe.  His books made me think about my adamant avoidance of this word in books.  I realized it really depends on the book.  I still don't like it when characters in a book call each other stupid and have horrible attitudes.  In this book, because the story is so fantastical, I could overlook it.  The king is quite spoiled and Persimmony has her own peculiar attitudes, but they are truly "characters".  As for the Worldview, I really didn't find anything objectionable.

Now I have to be honest, I did already ask my daughter to read it and it hasn't caught her fancy yet, though she loved flipping through it and looking at the illustrations.  She seems quite funny to me about picking books.  She loves to read, but tends to read the books she loves over and over.  But, I know that she'll read this one in time.  It's right up her alley.  I struggle to find books for her that are at her reading level and appropriate given how young she is.  This book would be good for her to read.  

As a mom who's very picky about what my children read, would I recommend this book?  Yes.  It's fun and creative. 

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher, Puffin Books.

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