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“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue... More
Summary: Darius Chevalier and Zmod Tarib are two teenage boys who become inter-galactic space-mail pals. Darius lives in England and Zmod lives on the planet Bartoch, several galaxies away. In their correspondence, the boys share information about their planets, families, pets, hobbies, history, societies, fears, and concerns. When a major earthquake occurs on Bartoch, Darius loses contact with Zmod. Is he alive? Will the boys ever resume their frendship? This is a fantasy for teens that is written as a series of letters.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 9 to 12
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: The premise is sound. The pen-pal device works. There is a renewal of the search for Loch Ness Monster, an Orwellian like government “Mind Complex”, earthquakes, inter-planetary disasters, and pets throwing up on veterinarians. What more could adolescent boys ask of an author?
Pros: The pen pal/penfriend device is a unique and effective way to develop characters, explore ideas, and present different points of view. Though the setting is 200 years in the future, the reader will easily recognize Darius and Zmod as believable and likable peers.
Cons: The narrative, though substantively appropriate, is, at times, polished and easy to read but at other times affected and artificial.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a book for the school library or middle school classroom reading shelf.
Educational Themes: In sharing ideas about their planets, the boys are confronted with the human roots of bigotry and ignorance. The book provides valuable and viable opportunities for serious and interesting class/group discussions.