Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Dark Dreamweaver: Endorsed By A Nine-Year-Old Summer-Book-Hater

Every summer it's the same with my two daughters - any activity with even the slightest association whatsoever with school is met with as much enthusiasm as a dental appointment. 'Educational' and 'learning' are struck from our vocabulary, and even one of their favorite activities, reading, takes a hit during the summer months. So when The Parent Bloggers Network offered me a chance to review The Dark Dreamweaver, a book aimed at tweens, I accepted but thought I may have to disguise it as a Nintendo game and attach it to a popsicle before presenting it to my girls.

So imagine my surprise when, after showing them a description of the book online, they jumped at the chance to read it. (Not saying it didn't have something to do with the fact that I told them that the book was free and wouldn't be coming out of their allowance.) But I will say that in this case, they did judge the book, at least initially, by it's cover - they reacted immediately to the mystical illustration that was similar in feel to some of their favorite series - The Chronicles of Narnia, A Series of Unfortunate Events. And then these two non-summer-readers did something unheard of - they played rock paper scissors to see who would get to read a book first. If that isn't a ringing endorsement from the start I don't know what is.

My nine-year-old won out (she says her secret is to just keep doing rock rock rock) and started reading it as soon as it arrived in the mail. She immediately became engrossed in the story of David, a young boy who discovers a caterpillar who claims to be a wizard named Houdin who hails from a world called Remin. She'd stop her reading to describe to me the various characters - a serpent, a jellyfish-man - but I'd have to say she was most excited to discover that her big sister shares a name with one of the main characters.

One of the first comments that my daughter made about the book was that the dream sequences in the beginning of the book were frightening her, and when I read them I'd have to agree that the images they conjure up may be intense for young readers. But beyond that there's nothing particularly violent or disturbing in the book that I've read thus far. I think author Nick Ruth does a good job of creating a magical world with his characters, although his writing may lack the flourish of J.K. Rowling or Lemony Snicket.

Another comment she made was that the book seemed to "jump around too much." I haven't read far enough to see this, but she says the story changes locations too many times and "it would be nice if the story was more calm in places." I'm going to make sure I bring this up the next time she's watching an episode of one of her favorite cartoons, the 'calming' Fairly OddParents.

But overall my daughter is giving the book a thumbs up so far, and she's now three quarters of the way through it. She seemed to lose interest in the story in the past couple of weeks until recently when she and her sister found a caterpillar in the backyard, named it Jerry and claimed it was of extraordinary intelligence. This seemed to light a fire under her to finish the book, which just goes to prove that as with most things, sometimes the key to a good read is all in the timing.

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Lin said...

Aha! Your're still putting fingers to keyboard. I keep checking your blog (and seeing the chicken) and forgetting to hop over here. All nicely written, I might add. I'm impressed. I've not penned a word for ages, but am gearing up to get started again.

Maybe once it cools down a bit.

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