Children's Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Adventures in Reading

Happy first week of May to everyone!
One of my own research projects is about Dark Ages Britain. Then the warriors would go home in winter to take care of their own land, but in spring just around Beltane, the first of May, they would venture out, band together, and go in search of invading Saxons to drive out of England. Thus it is fitting that I received an adventure book to review just this time of year. It is Mike Klaassen's first published young adult novel, and what a great job he has done. It doesn't show any of the signs of a first book. Do read it.
In another vein of adventure: I usually don't read books on the best seller list. I wait until they have stood the test of time. But, I love mysteries for my relaxing reading & I studied symbolism in art, so when I saw the new illustrated paperback version of The DaVinci Code I couldn't resist it. Like Mike's book it is a page turner and well-plotted. I guess we all have to see the movie next.

The Brute
Author: Mike Klaassen
Blue Works, Port Orchard, WA, 2005
ISBN – 1-59092-225-5

From the excellent beginning sentence to the last line The Brute has readers on the edge of their chairs. The gripping, tumultuous adventures of 16 year old Fortney Curtis, as he is literally tossed into the grips of a tornado’s aftermath, are equal to that of a modern day hero’s journey. Fort, his nickname, has another nickname, "Brute," attributed to his large size and his untamed temper, which can cause quite a lot of damage. In this saga Fort attempts to rescue his father, brothers, other young Boy Scouts, a rancher, and her teenage niece, Tana, from the devastation of the tornado that slammed down onto their wilderness Scout camp and the surrounding countryside. However, he runs into one dangerous obstacle after another including that of his own unharnessed anger. Will Fort achieve his two-fold goal of getting help for the others as well as taming his rage?
Mike Klaassen’s first book shines as a well-crafted novel. The book doesn’t flinch at gory images, gross humor, and real pre-teen and teen language. There are also poignant moments such as the unexpected loyalty of Butch, a Rottweiler, who Fort has only just met. The book is successful because it is encased in gritty truth about modern day life on a Kansas prairie. The story shows teen boys that they can learn to cope with their own inner hurdles while facing life’s outer challenges. Kudos to Mike Klaassen for such a page-turning tale; and kudos to all the readers who risk embarking on this literary journey. Highly recommended for young adult readers twelve and older. Enjoy!

"Readers who enjoyed Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, will also enjoy The Brute!"


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