Thursday, July 18, 2013
THE FALSE PRINCE- Jennifer A. Nielsen
At the same time, I know that it's a genre that lots of kids love. My sons loved MAN OF STEEL. They are not readers :( but regularly enter magical worlds through video games and movies. I watch the kids at school select fantasy books again and again and again, in their weekly trips to the library. I think I should read more fantasy, and so every once in a while, usually during the summer or on Christmas vacation, I try to stretch myself.
Last week, I picked up THE FALSE PRINCE at the library. I had read about the book on several blogs. Given my aversion to fantasy, I was pretty much prepared not to enjoy THE FALSE PRINCE. I was surprised, then, when I loved it. The plot, in brief- the country of Carthya is in danger of toppling. Enemies on all sides are threatening war. The royal family, save for Prince Jaron, believed lost at sea, is rumored to have been killed. Conner, a nobleman, sets out to save the country, by training four orphan boys, with the hopes that one of them will eventually be able to present himself as the long lost Prince Jaron.
The story is told by Sage, the most defiant and devious of the orphans. There are a million twists and turns, questionable characters and lots of suspense. I'm currently working my way through NOTICE AND NOTE, and have been thinking a lot about the possibility of selecting a book for each grade level, and buying each kid a copy at the beginning of the year, just so that they could mark it up, using the NOTICE AND NOTE signposts. Readers definitely have to pay attention as they read. At the same time, it's not super hard.
I'm trying to decide if I will recommend it to our fifth or sixth grade teachers as a read aloud. In the mean time, I'm off to check out THE RUNAWAY KING, the second book in the series. I can't wait to find out what happens!
A sidenote: Jennifer Neilsen had actually come to my school about 18 months ago. At that point, she was relatively unknown, and had only published ELLIOT AND THE GOBLIN and maybe one more ELLIOT book. It was kind of a weird author visit-- the school was in a time of huge transition with new leadership and lots of new teachers (including me) and no one knew she was coming until the morning of the visit. We didn't have any of Nielsen's books in our library, the kids hadn't read anything by her and weren't at all prepared. Even so, author visits are really rare in high poverty schools, and our kids were thrilled at the prospect of getting to hear from a published author. At that visit, Jennifer talked about THE FALSE PRINCE, but it didn't really connect for me until I started reading more about THE FALSE PRINCE and saw the ELLIOT titles listed.