BOOKS FOR CHILDREN: How do you know what's good?

While there are many places (especially on the internet) where you can read book reviews, how do you really know if it's a good book or not when a single book might receive anywhere from one to five stars?
The answer: read the reviews of a book-addicted teacher librarian.

** The age recommendations are guidelines only; whether or not a certain book is suitable for a particular child depends on multiple factors, including their maturity, reading level, interests, and in some cases their experiences.
** While the ratings are largely based on my own personal appreciation/enjoyment of the book, they are also influenced by my experiences as a teacher and the potential attraction for the target-aged child (acknowledging that what one child may love, another may find exceptionally boring). A rating of 5 indicates the book is likely to be popular with the majority.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Series: The Mapmaker Chronicles (Fic)

AUTHOR: A.L. Tait (Aust)
PUBLISHED: Lothian, c2014.
PAGES/ILL: 238 pages.
SERIES: The Mapmaker Chronicles
FIRST BOOK: Race to the End of the World

PLOT: (Race to the End of the World)
Quinn is just a farmer's son. And one of the very few not of the nobility to know how to read and write, thanks to his mother. He also has a phenomenal memory. It is these skills that the King is looking for when he decides that his kingdom should be the first to map the entire world, so Quinn must leave his family and embark on an adventure he's not sure he really wants.

The King has decided three ships will compete against each other to be the first to bring home the most detailed map. Quinn is recruited to a ship captained by a slave who is competing for his freedom, and along the way they encounter strange creatures, barbaric tribes, and subterfuge from the other competitors.

Promoted as being the next 'Ranger's Apprentice', this story was enticing enough that I read it in one sitting (about 3 hours or so) one night and will be on the look-out for the next book. While, as an adult, I would have liked a little more character and story development, there is enough to make it accessible for younger children and still interesting for older readers. The journey is based on how explorers created maps in the past and includes encounters with unknowns such as a narwhal and the aurora borealis. Told in the third person and mostly from Quinn's point of view, it deserves a solid recommendation.

Would be a good class read-aloud for grades 3-5.

AGE: 7-12. (Reading age about 9+).
GENRE: Fantasy fiction
RATING: 5 stars.

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