Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan

Fell beasts. Kingdoms. Battles. Rangers.

Not Tolkien, but a story for Tolkien fans. Or just fans of good story-telling. Light on romance, heavy on battling, this is a terrific boy-book. Of course, my 13 yr. old girl liked it enough to read it in a day.

Confession: so did I, (and my housework reflects it). I enjoyed the entire wholesome book and had to see how it ended. Even though the ending was a set-up for the sequel.

Will is a ward who was dropped off at the local castle as an orphaned infant. All he knows of his family is that his father died a hero and his mother died after childbirth. Raised amongst a group of wards, he had a decent life for an orphan.

His destiny was determined on choosing day, a day that apprentices are picked to train for future roles in the kingdom. Will hopes to become a knight-in-training as he believes his father once was. Instead of being chosen for Battle-school, he is offered the chance to become a Ranger, essentially a spy and scout with ninja-like training. In the end, through acts of heroism on his part, he earns the chance to attend Battle school. By this point, the Rangers have won the reader over, and you hope they’ve won Will over, too and that he'll continue his apprenticeship with them.

I knew this would be a fine book when the orphaned boys were properly cared for by the local baron. I was further impressed when Will won his acceptance to apprenticeship less by his skill than by proof of his character when he withstood the temptation to lie.

One hel_ and one dam_ do not undermine the book’s safe rating, in my opinion, especially when they were rare and only in the context of the extremity of battle.

Safety Rating: 3 Vatican Flags; High-Readability


Jessica May 3, 2009 at 9:55 PM  

Thanks for the review! I am looking forward to reading the first book in this series to my boys.

It was great meeting you this weekend! God bless!

Tween Lit Crit May 5, 2009 at 6:14 PM  

I hope it's one of those books you like, too! It's very light on romance, and boys like that. I like that about boys. Nothing as gripping as Tolkien, but hey, that's like expecting Shakespeare each generation...

I so enjoyed meeting you, too. I think dinner out was the highlight of the conference. God's blessings on your family...

Christine May 5, 2009 at 7:55 PM  

So why didn't you tell me you had a blog? ;)

Tween Lit Crit May 6, 2009 at 6:44 PM  

well, my blog is more of an apostolate than a blog, per se. I try to pass it on to moms who are interested in books for tweenagers.
And why can't I find your blog again? I know you used to have one, but I've having trouble finding it, and now that my list of favorites is updated, I need to find yours!

You guys scored with the conference? A multitudes of blessings upon you. If nothing else, may Fr.'s efforts in Obama's backyard, (as he described in his talk on Sat.) take root in part because you made the effort to invite him and grant us the blessing to hear him! K

Tween Lit Crit May 6, 2009 at 6:45 PM  

ummm... that wasn't supposed to be a question mark, but an exclamation in para. 2

Monica November 2, 2009 at 3:01 PM  

Hi Kim!

Loriann forwarded me your site, and I've enjoyed it immensely. Thanks for this recommendation! I gave it to my 10-year-old nephew for his birthday (in July) and he loved it. He was even a Ranger for Halloween. My sister told me he asked if he'd already sent a thank you note for it. When she said he had, he said he thought he might send another one, since it was so good! How's that for a recommendation?

My kids aren't into the tween years yet, but I am so glad you're doing this for when they are!

Monica Bernstein

Tween Lit Crit November 2, 2009 at 7:04 PM  

Howdy, Monica!
I'm delighted you found something useful from here... That's my favorite recommendation.

Nice to hear from you; thanks for taking the time... :) Kim

Anonymous,  August 17, 2010 at 6:54 AM  

I am so glad to have come across this review. This series of books is wonderful for my 9 year old son. He has been reading these books every chance he gets for the last month or two. He loves to read, but is reluctant to try new books. Thanks again!

Beth,  March 17, 2011 at 12:05 PM  


Have you or yours read The Mysterious Benedict Society? We're reading this series to our boys (9 and 11), and they are it because it's an ongoing big suspenseful adventure, and it doesn't make them uncomfortable with unnecessary romance or horrible violence (lots of scary suggestions of violence, but no killing so far). I think it's a good moral model (inclusiveness of people with disabilities, of little children and of old people, with its group of young misfit heroes who are kind, loyal, honest, self-sacrificing, and motivated by natural inclinations to love others, protect the weak, and take responsibility for their society) though it is entirely secular (as far as I can tell). Nothing too-cool-for-school about these protagonists. That is really a plus, in my book. I'd be interested in what you have to say about it. I love your reviews!

Tween Lit Crit March 17, 2011 at 5:50 PM  

Hi Beth,
I did read Mysterious Benedict Society although it was a little while ago, and I can't remember why I didn't write a review. I do remember liking it and letting my children read it...
I would like to read it again; I try to write the reviews after I've been thorough, so I'll wait until I've re-read it. Thanks for the suggestion!

Beth,  March 18, 2011 at 7:25 AM  

Great! Thank you! Also, thanks for the movie reviewer recommendation. I'll let you know if I ever get around to blogging about movies myself. My sister would be the real genius at this. She's a home schooling mom of six, so she's supplied with an excellent range of test subjects.

(Oh--and on your college writing profs' forbidding exclamation points: Let me just say that it all depends on the rhetorical situation. Blog postings and personal notes? Punctuate as your heart prompts you!!!) --B

Tween Lit Crit March 25, 2011 at 12:27 PM  

You're my kind of college prof.!!!!

Anonymous,  September 30, 2011 at 6:39 PM  

This is a great review, bu I was surprised it wasn't more complete. I think a real recommendation for readi this book is shown through Will and Horaces conflict. Will is totally selfless when he saves Horace, and courageous killing the kalkara, absolutely self effacing afterwards, very humble, loyal, quick to forgive, obedient, and learns from his mistakes.Horace also learns how to forgive, he is humble even when being bullied at battleschool, respectful to his seniors, and despite his and Will's conflict, he is the first to praise Will's heroism, and the last to recognize his own. Many other caracters show these sort of virtues as well, especially Alyss and Jenny being peace-makers and showing kindness. Many Christian values, even pointedly praosing virtue,( like halt choosing will because of his honesty in the face of temptation to lie) and even though there are lots of battle/intense scenes, minimal gore and violence. Anyway, decided to give my two cents for it, I just think this review could be a little more complete. This really is a wonderful book with Christian values!:) thanks a bunch!

Tween Lit Crit October 5, 2011 at 5:18 PM  

Thanks for the 2 cents, Anonymous... I agree with your good insights!

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