Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 745
Becoming the true you.
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
The action-packed plot moves very quickly so it should hold the interest of most young readers. In the first few chapters, Jarell goes from being teased in school to emerging as the savior of Ulfrika in another dimension. Ulfrika has qualities of an African culture blended with science fiction. Jarell meets a young, spear-wielding, armor-plated warrior named Kimisi who’s able to transport them to new locations via portals or pilot a futuristic plane. They’re forced to hike across a desert on their way to a volcano while encountering a painted wolf and were-hyenas. The events are depicted in accompanying illustrations to help readers envision characters and settings.
Jarell needs to overcome self-doubt due to his school bullying and comparisons to his older brother. His brother has all of the confidence and athletic skills so Jarell feels inadequate following in his footsteps. Teachers and classmates mock Jarell when he daydreams about a fantasy land of warriors and goddesses. He draws these images to escape bad experiences with people but that leads to his distracting imagination. Others see him as absent-minded and weird which only makes him want to retreat into his sketchbook. However, readers quickly discover these make-believe characters and locations aren’t totally fictional.
What didn’t work as well:
It feels like the story is over before it barely gets started. The whole plot involves locating and retrieving one piece of a powerful staff and Kimisi is able to find it fairly quickly. There are a couple of complications and battles along the way but the story lacks depth or development. This style may not work for many students but it will be attractive for middle-graders who are not avid readers.
The Final Verdict:
This book is one of those engaging, quick-reads that help motivate reluctant readers. The energetic adventure jumps from one exciting conflict to another as Jarell and Kimisi try to stop an evil being from gaining enough power to invade other worlds.
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