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Have you ever read an exciting, thrilling, complex fantasy book written by a
15 year old? "Eragon", by Christopher Paolini, is not only well written -
with a multifaceted storyline that draws upon experience much beyond his
youthful years - but is long, with almost 500 pages. His story begins with
15 year old Eragon (here is at least one parallel of the author's
experience), who finds a smooth, blue rock while hunting for much needed
food far away from his uncle and cousin. When he can't seem to catch any
critter, large or small, he decides that he can at least sell the beautiful
stone back at his small village. But when he fails to accomplish this task,
he feels frustrated at not having the ability to help feed his family.
Later, however, as the stone lays on a shelf near his bed, he is awakened in
the night by sounds and movement from the stone. He ponders this phenomenon
and watches as it begins to break apart. A small, bluish and scaly dragon
hatches from what now appears to be not a rock, but an egg.
Eragon is now faced with a dilemma. If he shows his family this unusual
creature, he's sure they will be rid of it immediately. Dragons seem to have
become almost extinct. The wicked king will send his henchmen to take
Eragon's dragon back to the castle and the dragon will only survive there if
it serves the king. Eragon decides it would be best to keep his small
creature a secret from his family until he figures out what to do.
This secret quickly becomes a much bigger problem as the dragon grows larger
and larger every day. He finds a place outside where there's room for his
special pet to grow. Eragon builds an area in a tree to keep the dragon safe
from other predators. But soon even that dwelling proves to be too small.
Luckily for both of them, his dragon is able now to fly and keep out of
harms way.


During the initial time with the infant reptile, Eragon discovers a magical
connection with the dragon. He discovers that he can communicate with the
dragon and understand the dragon through his mind. It's through this unique
contact that he learns that the dragon is a "she". So he names her Saphira.
All of the events just mentioned happen in the first 59 pages. What takes
place beyond this magical moment in Eragon's life will have you racing to
read to the end. Eragon and Saphira discover that their kingdom is on the
brink of disaster and they must find a way to stop the killing and
plundering. There are evil creatures at large with descriptions of
appearance and persona that will be frightening. Mr. Paolini has mastered a
story so complex that he has applied skills way beyond his youth, forming a
story with plots and subplots woven expertly throughout making this a top
rated fantasy! He has a glossary at the back listing the Ancient, Dwarf and
Urgal languages, enabling help when reading unknown or forgotten words.
There's even a detailed map located on the inside covers allowing you to
follow Eragon's travels as he pursues evil.
I wish that the author would have also had a list and description of
characters located at the back of the book. The unfamiliar names get a
little confusing. Also, the description of battle scenes and loss of lives,
although not long, are very descriptive, making this book for 12 and older.
Fortunately for the reader, Mr. Paolini has a sequel, "Eldest", on the way.

 

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Summer in America means hot and perhaps, humid days and nights. Summer is
looked forward to by children of all ages because it also means a break from
school. But how about looking into what heats up our earth and keeps us
alive?  "My Light", by Molly Bang, is a bright look into what happens to the
energy from our sun as it seeps into our planet and creates energy for every
living thing. This has to be one of the best books written for kids on this
subject. The entire book glows with effervescent yellow set on deep, dark
pages. Each illustration depicts one of the many energy sources that the
earth reaps from our sun. Ms. Bang masters simplicity through her text and
pictures enabling all who read it to understand and appreciate the wonderful
source of our light. She has uniquely placed bright yellow energy spots on
all pages so that the reader can identify the source of the energy and the
target of impact when this energy becomes leashed and controlled. There are
depictions of rivers, turbines, electrical wires, giant metal windmills,
solar power, fossil fuel and even the simple light or fluorescent bulb. She
has more information about energy and how she came to write this magnificent
and illuminating book at the back, as well as her website with even further
depth. Ms. Bang is a previous Caldecott winner and this book is another
outstanding entry! She sheds much light on a source of energy we need in
order to live. But, you might need sunglasses to read the book because the
pages seem to have captured some of the sun's light! This is a great book
for all ages!