Amplifying Minds

Learning and Growing Together

Hey. It’s only my opinion.

The Invisible Sister and The False Prince are two of the Virginia Young Reader’s Choice books.  Kids read from the list of books here and then vote on which ones they liked best. I wouldn’t vote for either of these and here’s why:

The Invisible Sister is a book about a family whose oldest child is born with a case of “Formulous Disappearus,” which simply means she was born invisible. The book is full of sibling fussing, with the younger brother, Frank’s, insecurities, being part of the reason for that bickering. The plot can be stated in one sentence, it’s not a particularly rich book for discussion, and I personally would never recommend it to a kid. However, I think it’s one kids will find funny, the events can be easily understood, kids will relate to the big sister’s picking on the younger brother, the nicknames Frank gives his neighbors may appeal to them, and the misunderstandings between Frank and his new friend Charlie will easily be understood by kid readers. Kids may really enjoy it–I thought it was pretty shallow, and the jokes or what were supposed to be funny parts just didn’t strike me as that funny.

Right now, I feel like saying something I see at the end of an opinion piece in a magazine I read regularly–“Hey, it’s only my opinion!”

And, as for The False Prince? Well, if you read my prior post mentioning it, you know once I began it, I couldn’t put it down until I finished (at 2AM) and then I promptly went to Amazon and downloaded the sequel, and read it through (going to sleep at 4:30 AM). I loved both books, for lots of reasons.

The story is a typical fantasy/lost and found prince retelling, with some very compelling friendship making (or unmaking) along the way. The characters, mostly put into some awful situations, are well drawn, interesting and there’s some great foreshadowing in this book that would be awesome to talk about with kids as they read it. It’s mostly realistic (within its realm of a make believe world) and the romance is kept to a reasonable amount, without descriptive scenes inappropriate for young kids. So why wouldn’t I vote for it?

Simply put, the violence.

I think the world is harsh enough and kids have to see/live with too much already.  Especially in this time of citizen journalism and explicit TV camera scenes of disasters, war, killings, beatings, etc. I prefer that the books my kids read not contain vivid pictures of cruelty and torture–which this book has. Whips are the preferred tool of torture…and the poor hero of the story continually had wounds that needed alcohol poured in them to not become infected. (That was one glaring inconsistency in this somewhat medieval fantasy world–a bottle of alcohol being readily available everywhere and people knowing to pour it in wounds to keep infection at bay. I think the only purpose for it was to increase the hurt one’s pain.)

And I don’t really care that it’s recommended for middle school. In middle school I began reading Heinlen and Asimov and a ton of other pretty thought-heavy books–but I don’t remember them having needless cruelty and descriptions of torture that had me picturing some pretty gruesome scenes of bloody backs. I tend to skip over that kind of text,  even as an adult, as it disturbs me…so I sure wouldn’t ask my 9 and 10 year olds to read it–though some of them will, since it’s on the list for a vote. It’s one of those books I think I’d rather talk to parents about before a kid reads it by getting it from me.

Hey.  It’s only my opinion.

These are some prior winners, by the way, in case you’re interested in checking them out:

  • 2012-2013 WINNERS

Primary: I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll (Flashlight Press)

Elementary: Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by Eric Wight (Simon & Schuster)

Middle: Powerless by Matthew Cody (Random House)

High: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (Random House)

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