Saturday, August 21, 2010

Raleigh's Page Review

Book Talk:  Andrew grew up listening to his teacher talk about the opportunities and beauty waiting in the new Eden called America, but the land seemed as impossibly far away to him as the original garden of paradise.  Then, one day, his father writes a letter to Sir Walter Raleigh negotiating the terms of making Andrew his page.  Before he knows it he is in London working for one of the Queen's favorites--an eccentric aristocrat who is obsessed with the idea of American colonization.  But there are many bumps to overcome on the road to America and Andrew must risk his life repeatedly as a spy gathering intelligence, acquiring tools, and on the rocky waves of a sea in a storm.  And once he gets to America it's not the peaceful paradise he's expecting.

Rocks My Socks: The book is very well researched and I  learned a lot of fascinating details about the time period.  The characters were interesting and endearing, one of my favorites being the French gardener who also works for Raleigh.

Rocks In My Socks: As much as I love good research I felt that the author stuck too closely to the historical facts he was able to uncover. At points he gave too many details and at times and I found myself skimming from boredom, especially when he had paragraph-long lists, for example of specific items packed on the ship.  I also felt that he could have invented more--the book was interesting because of its historical setting, but the plot on its own would not have been enough to hold my attention.  There isn't much of a story arc, the protagonist (or any other character) doesn't really go through any major changes and I got no sense of rising action, climax, and falling action at the end.  I felt as if he just had finished the period he wanted to discuss so he ended it.

Every Book Its Reader: I'd recommend this to children ages 9-12 who are studying the beginnings of America in history.  Adding a bit of a story and fleshing out the world of that era should be interesting to someone learning the dry facts and help them to understand the times better.  The book should be able to be enjoyed by boys and girls but it is definitely geared more towards boys as every major character is male and there is no major romantic subplot (although I'm sure many girls might appreciate that as well, even I found it a bit refreshing.)
Raleigh's Page by Alan Armstrong

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