Friday, September 25, 2009

Thirteenth Child (mg review)

This book was so unexpectedly cool! And believe me, I mean that in the best of ways possible. I expected a typical "magic" book, with spells, magicians, etc, which is definitely a large part of the plot, but the Patricia C. Wrede included a really cool dynamic with the time period being placed during Western expansion in the U.S. and a frontier lifestyle. A very interesting mix that really worked.

Jacket Description:

"Eff was born a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son. This means he's supposed to possess amazing talent-and she's supposed to bring doom to everyone around her. Undeterred, her family moves to the frontier, where her father will be a professor of magic at a school perilously close to the magical divide that protects settlers from the beasts of the wilderness.

Eff and Lan do not know what awaits them in such an unknown place. There are steam dragons that hover in the sk, and strange creatures that could undermine the homesteaders' very existence. Eff is allowed ot leave magic with the other students-but there's always the threat of it going horribly wrong. As a thirteenth child, Eff always feels one short step away from complete ruin.

As Eff and Lan grow older, they face challenges they never could have dreamed of. And then their magic is put to the test in a standoff that will alter their live forever."

I can definitely see a family reading this out loud together before bedtime each night. Nothing is too scary for little ears and the flow of the plot give a nice, homey feel. A comforting feeling. Is that strange?

There isn't anything overly exciting in any of the "action" scenes, but sometimes we need a book that isn't all thrills and chills. We so rarely just get a story anymore that has almost an old-fashioned vibe to it. Like a modern Little House on the Prairie. With dragons and magicians.

I did feel the book was long, probably too long for the upper-elementary age group it seems to target. 50-100 pages could be taken out and I would be ok with that. Some of the back stories on family members could easily be eliminated without harming the true plot of the book.

Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy :)

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Thirteenth Child
Patricia C. Wrede
344 pages
Middle Grade
Scholastic Press
April 2009


GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I've got a copy of this one at home. Patricia Wrede was one of the author's at my table for the YA Coffee Klatch at ALA and she talked about this book. It looks like a weird mix. Great review!

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

I have this down as a book to order from the Scholastic book orders for my classrom. I feel more confident buying it now! Thanks for the review. I'm happy to see more MG reviews and not just all YA/teen.

Charlotte said...

This one generated a huge, huge, huge amount of controversy when it came out, because it an American Western Expansion saga in which there are no Native Americans--they are totally wiped away. This made it hard for me to recommend the book, as Native Americans have historically been subjected to so much silencing, and so many attempts to wipe them away.

But I know what you mean about the old fashined appeal--I felt that too!

Kailana said...

I want to read this eventually. I have seen reviews all across the board for it, but it does look good and I kind of like the cover...