Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Lucas, G. (Producer).  (2009).  Star Wars, the clone wars: The complete season one.  United States: Lucas Film Ltd. & Warner Home Video.Interest Level: 5-8Genre: Science Fiction, AnimationSubjects: Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Interplanetary voyages, apprentices, war, robots, clones, Jedi,Language: English, French, German, SpanishSubtitles: English, German, SpanishRated: NRRunning Time: 484 minutes

Lucas, G. (Producer). (2009). Star Wars, the clone wars: The complete season one. United States: Lucas Film Ltd. & Warner Home Video.
Interest Level: 5-8
Genre: Science Fiction, Animation
Subjects: Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Interplanetary voyages, apprentices, war, robots, clones, Jedi,
Language: English, French, German, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
Rated: NR
Running Time: 484 minutes

“Fear is a disease; hope is its only cure.” – Blue Shadow Virus (ep.17)

Star Wars The Clone Wars: The Complete Season One package is a wonderful collector’s item. The disc case has the appearance of a high quality hard cover novel with 3 discs on inside of both covers and between is a 68-page booklet to tickle the fancy of any Star Wars geek young and old. The booklet is jam packed with original pre-production sketches in black & white and full color and corresponding artist notes. The discs include 22 episodes, 7 director’s cut episodes, 22 behind-the-scenes featurettes with director and cast interviews, and the Jedi Temple Archives which is a database of the initial animation process, concept art, and 3D turnarounds. If you’re getting a little bored of the Milky Way galaxy, then a “galaxy far, far away” with The Clone Wars is just what you need.

The Clone Wars is produced by George Lucas and Lucasfilms. This is a spin-off series set between Episodes II and III of the live feature films and fits perfectly after Yoda’s comment to Obi Wan near the end of Episode II, “the shroud of the Dark Side has fallen, begun the Clone War has.” The clones have not yet become enemies of the Jedi, and the series begins as war is already raging between the Republic and the Separatists, the clones and the droids.  The first episode will have anyone watching enthralled and laughing with the slap-stick humor of the droids and in awe observing everyone’s favorite Jedi Master Yoda needing piggyback rides and using a cane yet able to be victorious over an entire battalion of droids with his ever impressive Jedi acrobatics. And the viewer gets to meet Ahsoka Tano, a young light saber yielding girl with a quirky personality, dedicated heart, and Anakin Skywalker’s padawan. Anakin Skywalker (nicknamed “Sky Guy” by Ahsoka) is almost always accompanied by Ahsoka and Obi Wan Kenobi, offering characters of both genders and various ages that will easily appeal to tweens and those younger or older.

The series offers plenty of options for discussion or personal reflection as each of the episodes begins with tidbits of Yoda wisdom. And though The Clone Wars and anything Star Wars is far from realistic, there are plenty of themes and lessons to learn from the show as the Jedi with the aid of the clone army try to return peace and order to the universe. Some themes that resonate strong are duty, morality, individuality, friendship, hatred, grief, segregation, secrets, and courage. The depth of the characters, animation design, foreshadowing, and intriguing and addictive storyline, will keep fans and those new to Star Wars wanting to own and re-watch each of the current four seasons already released on DVD and possibly books from DK such as; Star Wars The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia, Star Wars The Clone Wars Visual GuideStar Wars The Clone Wars Visual Guide Ultimate Battles, Star Wars The Clone Wars, Incredible Vehicles, and Star Wars The Clone Wars New Battlefronts The Visual Guide. If viewers are looking for an entirely new story featuring evil armies, royal twins, and a mysterious warrior destined to bring peace to the kingdom, they may enjoy the 26-episode anime series Guin Sagaor a world ravished by war between nations in which people can manipulate the elements in Nickelodeon’s series Avatar: The Last Airbender.


This is a wonderful website with daily news that ranges from typical information regarding national and world current events from politics to the newest hit dance sensation as seen in the recent article featuring PSY and his hit Gangman Style. The website is available for students of the ages 8-18. The articles are chosen by tweens and teens and are most appropriate for the page they are highlighted on. Tweens and Teens are encouraged to comment on stories that offer a critical thinking question at the end of the story and even take quizzes.

TweenTribune is a free online tool, offering daily news in social site format, and offers ample classroom curriculum options since student accounts requires one of their current teachers/librarian having an account so they can register, especially for those under the age of 13 who are commonly restricted from a lot of online social interactions are able to participate. Students that comment on articles and take quizzes will have their scores delivered to their teacher for grading if desired and comments for approval prior to publishing. TweenTribune is COPPA compliant.

TweenTribune’s quote on the top of their home page currently as of 12/6/12 stated “79323 teachers make learning happen with ‘Gangnam Style’”. I think any student would find that mind-blowingly awesome! And, the headline article of 12/4/12 was Gangnam Style” is most watched video – ever , and had the following critical thinking challenge following the article: Give three reasons why “Gagnam Style” became more popular than Justin Bierber’s “Baby.” Explain how the audience for each video is the same or different. Some replies include:

  • Submitted by remim-Sho on Monday, 12/03/2012 – 22:19. – There are three reasons why Gangnam style is a more popular song than Baby from Justin Beiber. One,is that Gangnam Style was an unprecedented event meaning it was never before known or experienced. Another reason Gangnam Style is better than (Baby) is because in Gangnam style as you are listening to the song,there is a dance that you can do. I do not think that Gangnam Style was mimicking Justin Beiber”s style by like putting it up their. One day ether one of theses pop stars can relinquish their career when ever they want to. And the last reason why Gangnam Style is better than Justin Beiber song is because when you listen to Gangnam style and you’re a guy you won’t feel like weird. On the other hand if you are a guy and you are listening to Baby by Justin Beiber you are gonna feel weird because Baby seems like a song more for girls.
  • Submitted by Stephenb18 on Sunday, 12/02/2012 – 11:10. – I think gangnam style should be more popular than Justin biebers baby and I can give reasons why. I think that gangnam style is more popular because it has a good music video, a fun dance that goes with it, and it’s in Korean. Those are three reasons I think it is more popular. I also think that the fans for each video are different. I think they’re different because gangnam style managed to get more views then baby and baby came out earlier.

Or another article with greater relevance to the classroom, Is penmanship important or a waste of time?, with the critical thinking challenge of: Is penmanship important or a waste of time? Some replies include:

  • Submitted by DanielS-G on Friday, 11/30/2012 – 07:47.  – I’m undecided. I kind of think it is a good thing to have cursive memorized just in case you ever have to sign your name or your electronics shut down, but I think it may just be a complete waste of time. Cursive is much slower than typing and typing comes out easier to read.
  • Submitted by kaylees12345 on Friday, 11/30/2012 – 14:45. – Honestly, I think that cursive shouldn’t be taught because it’s a waste of time! And it also hurts your hand…. Like, A LOT… Kids shouldn’t be tortured to learn this. It’s very annoying and everybody I know hates it…. Wait, no, scratch that… Strongly dislikes it…. No I’m going back to, everybody hates it.
  • Submitted by HannahM7124 on Friday, 11/30/2012 – 14:41. – I think teaching cursive writing isn’t important. There are more important things to learn and if you spend time teaching cursive that’s time you have lost teaching topic or skills that will be a bigger impact on a child’s life. Some people may argue that cursive is a way to have a stamp of identity, but in my personal opinion there are better ways to express yourself like through art, speech, or music.

TweenTribute offers students with current events with topics that go beyond classroom curriculum ensuring something will fancy their interest, get students reading, and hopefully participate. A paper magazine option is still available for subscription to TweenTribune, but the online version offers current news in real-time, and the discussions provides more than the paper version ever can by encouraging critical thinking, classroom use, a safe moderated environment, and exposure to the opinions and cultures from students from all areas of the globe as well as the intrinsic and extrinsic benefits of being a contributing member of society.

Paulsen, G. (1987). Hatchet. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
1995 ALA Notable Children’s Book
1988 Newbery Honor
Interest Level: 5-8
Reading Level: 6.0
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Subject: Survival, Divorce, Wilderness, Canada
Brian’s Saga:
1 – Hatchet
2 – The River
3 – Brian’s Winter
4 – Brian’s Hun

“And the last thought he had that morning as he closed his eyes was: I hope the tornado hit the moose.”

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is about a Brian Robeson, a 13-year-old boy that’s trying mostly to cope with his parent’s divorce, and the reason for the divorce, he saw his mother kissing another man, something neither parent is aware that he knows. Now that his parents are divorced he is being sent by plane to northern Canada for his first mandated visitation. Before he departs, his mother gives him a hatchet that she thinks will be a handy tool in the wilderness. The hatchet, when the time arises will serve as a symbol of his maturity into manhood.

As he travels in a plane with cargo and the only other person, the pilot he is left with ample time to think about his life’s sorrows unit captain has a heart attack and Brian with no help from air traffic control must crash land the plane into a lake somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. While in shock for the first day or two, he is starving, in pain, and highly hopefully he will be rescued shortly. As time goes on and a rescue seems unrealistic, he learns to fend for himself through trial and error. He eats berries that make him sick, and then finds raspberries with a bear nearby. He accidently injures himself trying to protect his food from porcupine that his trespassed into his rocky camp. Thankfully from all of the nature/survival shows he watched on television, Brian is able to light a fire using his hatchet against the stones. Now warm, full with berries he adventures out to try fishing. He enjoys his fish and attempts hunting birds but soon after is attacked by a moose, severally injuring him and almost simultaneously a treacherous storm destroys his shelter. Once again Brian is feeling broken and discouraged. The following day after the storm, Brian is able to see more of the plane has resurfaced and goes to claim whatever emergency supplies that may aid him.  And as he once again tries to reestablish himself with shelter and food for survival in the wilderness a plane lands on the lake, and Brian in utter disbelief continues his daily routine not understanding he is finally being rescued after spending fifty-four days in the wilderness, learning to survive with only the aid of his hatched given to him by his mother..

Hatchet will easily appeal to both boy and girls, even though the protagonist is a boy. Topics of parents divorcing, custody, ruminating thoughts, helplessness, and internal strength to survive are not gender specific. It’s a story about survival, making the best of a situation no bad it seems, finding hope even if it’s the smallest of things or memories from our past. Gary Paulsen has written a coming of age story with the wilderness as the backdrop. Readers will be on the edges of their seats wondering how Brian will manage?, will he survive?, can he figure out how to hunt for food?, will he make a fire?, and, will he ever be rescued? Paulsen describes the wilderness where Brian has crashed and his shelter with immense detail so the story and the reader’s experience is all the more realistic. It will be hard to feel sorry for Brian as he encounters difficulties but also the reader will want to cheer him on as he starts to piece together ways to improve his daily life. Those that enjoyed Hatchet may also enjoy reading the other Brian’s Saga books (The River, Brian’s Winter, Brian’s Hunt) as well as wilderness survival stories such as; My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry, and Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckert.

Reilly, P.R. (2002). Pictures of Hollis Wooods. Wendy Lamb Books.
2003 ALA Notable Children’s Book
2003 Newbery Honor Book
Interest Level: 5-8
Reading Level: 6.4
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Subjects: Family life, Orphans, Artist, Foster home care, Old age, New York (state), Love

“If someone looks into your eyes, I read in a book one time, he’ll see right into your soul. I didn’t want anyone to see into my soul.” – Hollis Woods

Pictures of Hollis Woods is a story of the power of love, and the way it changes forever the life of twelve year old Hollis Woods, an orphan, and abandoned as a baby. Feeling deeply unwanted and unloved, Hollis is moved from one foster home to another, fueling the ever growing anger inside of her. Unable to bond or connect with any of the foster families she has been placed with, Hollis runs away from most of them before they have a chance to request she be removed.  Hollis is eventually placed with a real family; a father, the Old Man, Izzy, the mother, and a boy named Steven. The Regan’s grow to love Hollis and want to adopt her, but after a tragic accident injures both Hollis and Steven, she runs away again, feeling guilty and responsible for what happened. She vows never to return, convincing herself that they didn’t really want her after all.

Hollis’  heart is softened, when she is placed with an elderly retired art teacher, Josie, and her cat Henry. It is here that Hollis learns to give of herself, and to find an appreciation in her talent of drawing, opening up to give love and be loved as she helps Josie who suffers from memory loss, in her day to day living. Hollis’ social worker, Mrs. Mustard, realizes Josie’s problem and prepares to place Hollis in a different foster home yet again. To prevent being removed from Josie’s care, leaving Josie alone, Hollis decides to run away and take Josie with her. They run to the Regan’s summer home, currently boarded up for the winter. Here the two of them spend Christmas together, sharing homemade gifts and love. And, alerted by social services, the Regan’s know just where to find Hollis; the one place she called home. .. In the end, love wins, for all!

This story, while written as a tween novel, and is rich with emotion and experiences many can relate to. Feelings of insecurity, loneliness, self-doubt, anger, and hurt, are emotions we can all identify with, just as feelings of love and the need to belong are. Pictures of Hollis Woods is a treasure with the turn of each page, a story you won’t want to end. The lessons of love woven through the pages of this book, much like Hollis’ drawings of her memories, will remain with the reader forever. Those who enjoyed the books Wild Things by Clay Carmichael, or The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron will find Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff an inspirational and memorable novel.

Scott, M. (2007). The alchemyst. New York, NY: Delacorte Press.
Interest Level: YA
Reading Level: 6.4
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Nicholas Flamel, John Dee, Alchemists, Magic, Supernatural, Brothers and sisters, Twins, San Francisco (Calif.), Occult, Paranormal.
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel:
1 – The Alchemyst
2- The Magician
3 – The Sorceress
4 – The Necromancer
5 – The Warlock
6 – The Enchantress

He holds the secret that can end the world

The story begins in The Alchemyst with an attack on a bookstore in San Francisco by Dr. John Dee and there gollums, creatures he created.  They steal the Book of Mage from the store, which was being protected by Nicolas Flamel, the alchemist.  During this battle for the book, Josh, an employee in the store, holds on to the last two pages of the book, which he tears out keeps in his procession.  These pages are critical for the intent of Dee and his employer, the Dark Guardian Morrigan.  During this, Flamel’s wife is taken hostage by Dee and his being held in ransom for those last pages.  Sophie, Josh’s twin sister, is also there when this occurs. Flamel takes the twins to see Scathach, a second generation Elder, for her assistance to rescue Perenelle. They are again attacked by Dee and his gollums, and escape once again. They go to Marin County and see Hektate, an Elder who lives in an alternate realm from the one the twins are familiar with.  Her powers are rooted in a giant tree that she lives in, that is filled with many rooms.  She takes them in, and shows Sophie her aura, the root of her powers.  In the Book of Mage, it is talked about twins, one with gold and one with a silver aura that will have great power and influence on events of the future.  Before she has time to bring Josh’s aura out, her realm is attacked, by Morrigan and her forces, including Dee.  Her tree is destroyed, and with it, she dies.  Flamel, Scathach, and the twins escape, and drive to Ojai, where they go to see the Witch of Endor.  The Witch is one of a few that can awaken Josh’s aura and teach both he and Sophie how to use their powers.  Before that can happen, Dee finds them and awakens all the dead in the area with is necromancer skills.  They go after Flamel and group, but they escape to Paris via a leygate, a means to travel immediately from one location to another.  They escape in time, and leave the Witch to destroy the dead and survive the attack.

Nicolas Flamel, is also known as Nick Fleming, a bookstore owner who, unbeknownst to the student that works for him, is an alchemist and immortal, born in France in 1330.  Flamel is the keeper of the Book of Mage.  His immortality comes from a spell in the book that needs to be done each month to maintain immortality.  Nicolas has become a master alchemist, able to turn metals to gold and other such changes. Perenelle Flamel, Nicolas’ wife, is also immortal, who is captured by the evil forces of the story and held captive.  She has the power to communicate with ghosts and other spirits.  She also has studied more of the magic of the book, and is very adept at those arts. Josh and Sophie, twins that become a part of the story as Josh works for Nick in his bookstore and Sophie works with Perenelle in the coffee shop across the street.  When the first confrontation with the evil forces begins, Josh and Sophie are swept up into the battle and later discover that they may be the twins spoken of in the Book of Mage.

Dr. John Dee, also an immortal, desires the Book of Mage for himself and those he works for.  He can create creatures such as gollums, creatures of mud and slime, and is a practiced necromancer, one that can raise the dead.  Scathach, also known as Scatty is known in mythology as the Warrior Maid, the King Maker, the Daemon Slayer, she is a second generation Elder, a being older than man.  She is asked by Nicolas, to assist in the rescue of his wife, Perenelle. Morrigan, a first generation Dark Elder, very powerful, who has hired Dee to work for her in gaining the Book of Mage, which would allow her to control humankind.  She was once known as the Crow Goddess and the Goddess of Death and Destruction.  She is able to summon birds and flying animals to do her bidding. Hektate: Also a first generation Elder, but not from the Dark side.  She has a kingdom in an alternate realm, in the center of which is a tree that sustains her.  At the start of the day, she is a very young girl; as the day wears on, she ages, until at night, she is an old woman.  Her powers are great and she awakens the magic, the aura, in Sophie but does not have time to do so in Josh, before attacked by Morrigan and Dr. Dee. The Witch of Endor, a witch, living in Ojai, California, who the group goes to for hiding and she provides a gate for them to escape to, to Paris, Nicholas’ birthplace.

This is the first book in the Secrets of Immortal Nicholas Flamel series (The Magician, The Sorceress, The Necromancer, The Warlock, The Enchantress).  It is well written, entrancing and draws the reader in.  After finishing, most readers will immediately want to get the second book of the series due to the first intense cliffhanging conclusion.  And, as the character Perenelle states at the end of the book, “On the contrary, it is now only just beginning.” Those who have read novels by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & The Olympians or Kane Chronicles), Philip Kerr’s Children of the Lamp series, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series will most likely enjoy this slightly more mature tale as Michael Scott combines modernism with various aspects of mythology and legends throughout the span of time. This is an amazingly enthralling story, filled with mythological gods, vampires, werewolves, and even the elixir of life.  The Alchemyst is a fabulous read, as is the entire Secret of Immortal Nicholas Flamel series.

Tolkein, J.R.R. (1937). The hobbit, or, There and back again. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin
Interest Level: YA
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Middle Earth, Magic, Creatures, Dwarves, Elves, Good and evil, adventures and adventurers, dragons,

Bilbo Baggins is going on an adventure…

This newer edition of The Hobbit offers an introduction written by Christopher Tolkien, recent text corrections, and the inclusion of all of Tolkien’s original drawings and illustrations in color, as well as enhanced maps. This is a wonderfully exciting adventure for those of all ages. Tolkien wrote this story for his own children and tween and young adults will enjoy The Hobbit as it introduces the reader to the world of the Hobbits, Middle-earth, Biblo Baggins, Gandalf the wizard, and the Ring of power.

Bilbo’s home is visited by Gandalf the wizard and thirteen dwarves, inviting Bilbo to be the burglar of the group of adventurers; one side of Bilbo’s family, the Tooks, were adventurers, so he has it in his blood, if not in his initial desire to not go.  While on the journey, the band first runs into a group of Trolls, who want to eat the entire party.  After that escape, they meet Elrond and the elves, who invite the group to stay a while, to eat and rest up for the next part of their travels.  After leaving the elves, sometime later, they take shelter in a cave, and are discovered and captured by the goblins.  It is during this time of the story that Bilbo, who had escaped capture, finds the Ring of Invisibility.  When he would slip it on to his finger, he would become invisible to those that looked where he was.  Using the ring to hide himself, he meets Gollum, deep within the bowels of the goblin kingdom.  Gollum challenges Bilbo to solving riddles; the one who loses grants the other’s wish.  Gollum only wanted his “Precious” back, the ring.  Bilbo, meanwhile, wanted to find an escape route for him and the dwarves, who were being held captive by the elves. Bilbo outsmarts Gollum and escapes with his life. After escaping the goblins, the troop comes against the Wargs, wolves that were associated with the goblins.  The band of adventurers is saved by a group of very large Eagles, which swoop down and save Bilbo and gang from the wolves.  This puts the travelers near their goal, the Lonely Mountain, home of Smaug, the dragon.  Using a map that Gandalf gave the group, they find a hidden back entrance to the mountain.  Bilbo enters and encounters Smaug sleeping, and Bilbo weakens a spot on the dragon’s armor. Eventually when Smaug leaves the cave to seek out the adventures on the outside of the mountain he killed by an arrow shot by Bard through the spot Biblo weakened. As a war is brewing between the dwarves and the humans who want a share of the gold that Thorin refuses, through some burglary and negotiation, Biblo unites the parties, and differences still not yet settled, the humans, dwarves, and elves band together to fight the horde of goblins and Wargs in which Beorn comes to their aid with the eagles which ensures their defeat. When Gandalf rejoins the party, he helps settle things, and peace ensues. As the story concludes, Biblo, along with his portion of the find, journeys back to the house under The Hill, to spend his treasure and life as he wants.

There are many characters in this fantasy tale of Middle Earth (although not called Middle Earth in any of this tale, but clearly so in the later books that follow by J.R.R. Tolkien).  Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit who lives under The Hill; the main hero of the story, Bilbo journeys to the Lonely Mountain with his group of adventurers, in search of treasure and more.  Hobbits are smallish/short creatures, not much to venture away from home, with hairy toes and big appetites.  Hired on to be the burglar of the group, a task very much unlike Bilbo (or so it seems at the time).  He shows insight, bravery, and wisdom during the tale, while being described as a timid creature in the beginning of the tale. Gandalf the Wizard, is a white, or good, wizard of the realm.  It is Gandalf that comes to Bilbo to invite him to be the burglar of this fine troop of adventurers. The band of dwarves led by Thorin, heir to the realm Under the Mountain, is a fierce leader.  All of the dwarves are short in stature, but long in the beard.  The rest of the group was:  Dawlin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur.   Each dwarf exhibits their own individuality in their actions, although Kili and Fili, the youngest of the dwarves, are spoken of as if they were one, with similar actions throughout the tale.

The good vs. evil characters/creatures are many in The Hobbit. Evil beings of the story include trolls, spiders, goblins, Wargs, bats, and other frightening creatures.   Each group has their own characteristics, the trolls being slow and very large; the spiders, playing on people’s fears of spiders and having them large enough to overcome a dwarf and capture them for food, the Wargs being wolves, another animal that men fear, while the goblins are described as fearsome and dark beings, the epitome of evil. As the good characters go, most were represented in the book more as individuals, such as Beorn, the man who could transform into a bear, to Elrond and the Elves, to Bard and the humans of the Dale, the lands below the Lonely Mountain, as leaders of their groups.  It appears in the story that the good has leaders that stand out individually, while the bad or evil creatures are seen more as a pack or group.  The only exceptions to this are the eagles.  A magnificent creature in real life, the eagles are very large birds, large enough to pick up a dwarf or hobbit to rescue them, or fight off the goblins during the war at the end. Smaug, the dragon, is an evil creature that is described on its own, primarily because he is one of the last dragons still alive.  He is the hoarder of mounds and mounds of gold and silver, which he obtained while wiping out villages and people/dwarves, stealing their gold and hoarding it in his cave on the Lonely Mountain.  It is Smaug that has killed the dwarves that formerly resided in the Mountain, and is now trying to kill the party of fourteen, who want to lay claim to the riches that Smaug has and return the mountain to the dwarves.  And, Gollum, because of his prominence in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is a vital part of that story, but in The Hobbit, his part is one of many antagonists in the story.  The ring is only seen as a good thing in this story, but his bad side later comes out in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which follows his tale.  In this book, Gollum is the keeper of the way out of the goblin’s lair, and will only assist Bilbo if the hobbit can stump Gollum with a riddle.

The Hobbit, like most fantasy stories, is a tale of good and evil, and the author, near the end of the story, shows how strong individuals can fall victim of corruption when monetary possessions/value are at stake. How the pure of heart, Biblo, and his dominating good can be a positive influence on others in their party. J.R.R. Tolkien within in his writing, beyond storytelling, his voice and opinion is at times apparent and very much welcomed. Those who have already read the Lord of the Rings trilogy will eagerly want to read the backstory found in The Hobbit in the greatest fantasy-adventure book of all time. And for those who have yet to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King), and want to know all the hype behind the phrase“One Right to rule them, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them”, shouldn’t hesitate getting a copy of the J.R.R. Tolkien’s’ novels. Tolkien fans may also enjoy the work of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance) with many similar fantasy characters yet still a fresh new story. The Hobbit is scheduled for a three part movie release beginning with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in theaters December 14, 2012.

Wooding, C. (2012). Pandemonium. New York, NY: Graphix.
Interest Level: YA
Reading Level: 5.1
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Subjects: Impersonation, princes, court and courtiers, fantasy, comic book, royalty, magic, humor

I’ll personally see to it that you get turned inside out and covered in salt and lemon juice before being thrown into a barrel of rusty razors and rolled down a hill”- Lumbago

In Chris Wooding’s graphic novel debut, Pandemonium, he offers a devilishly entertaining, fun fantasy adventure, combined with slapstick humor, and unexpected plot twists. Teenage Seifer Tombchewer, a Skullball captain and heartthrob off most girls is kidnapped from his peasant mountain village, brought to the castle of the Darkling Realm kingdom, to impersonate the missing Prince Talon of the clan Pandemonium. While Seifer struggles to impersonate the missing prince, his actions and the reactions of those around him offer much comic relief to the reader.  Inevitability, he proves to the royal family and royal advisors that his simple village ways and strong caring nature would make him a better candidate for the throne than the current Prince. Seifer mends broken relations with Talon’s younger sisters, Sarcoma and Min-Min and forges a close bond even after they learn his true identity. He also falls for the attractive fast flying and stunt performing Carcassa, who has come to ask her clan’s land back. Carcassa is the daughter of Baron Canasta Malefica, a gambling addict who won her in a card game. Siefer worries if anyone will remember him, his temporary fiancé Lady Asphyxia and her upcoming arrival that may ruin this entire ruse and result in him being fed to the “psycho carnage beasts” while also trying to avert a war with the Illuma, those who devised the kidnapping of Prince Talon and are working with Baron Crucifus who they have promised to give the throne to the Darkling Kingdom.

Basically, this is a modernized fantasy filled version of The Prince & The Pauper but still is absolutely entertaining. As Pandemonium ends with the words “The end…for now”, readers can assume that it’s likely to see a sequel sometime in the near future. Other graphic novels that may interest those that enjoyed Pandemonium with bizarre creatures, mistaken identities, self-sacrifice, all while trying to discovers one’s identity may also enjoy Ben Hatke’s Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, Akira Watanabe’s Fullmetal Alchemist manga series, or even Kazu Kibuishi’s Explorer: The Mystery Boxes.

Excerpt from PANDEMONIUM
by Chris Wooding
illustrated by Cassandra Diaz