Epoca: The Tree of Ecrof

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
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Sports-themed magical fantasy values teamwork, character.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Fantasy meant to entertain.

Positive Messages

Teamwork makes more things possible than can be done alone. You won't always be on a team with your friends, so you have to learn how to be at your best and work with anyone at any time. Visualization helps you see how to do something that seems impossible. Don't be afraid of your power or your inner strength, but learn to control and use it wisely and to good ends. There are no "girl" sports or "boy" sports, there are just sports. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pretia, 10, is brave, thoughtful, and resourceful. But she's afraid of her own inner strength and special abilities (called "grana") that she doesn't participate fully or give it her all at the elite sports academy she attends. Eventually she learns to trust herself and the power of teamwork to achieve the impossible. Classmate Rovi, also 10, is an orphan living on the streets who steals to get by, but does so as ethically as possible: He only takes what he needs to survive, and he only takes from wealthy merchants who barely notice anything's gone. And he has his own fears and secrets holding him back, too. Antagonist Castor uses verbal bullying and hostility to put others down. Other classmates and teachers represent a wide variety of cultures and skin colors, all united by their love of sports and desire to excel. All kids participate fully in all sports, although this installment concentrates exclusively on track and field events, and compete together with winners divided equally between girls and boys.

Violence

Kids are in peril several times from magical or supernatural events. A kid tries to hurt himself to avoid competition and fractures his wrist. A fight mentions rolling, tumbling, and grabbing. A kid kicks another. An accident leads to a broken arm. A thrown baton results in a trickle of blood. Everything resolves safely.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Rovi's father was addicted to a fictional sleeping aid; its negative effects on both father and Rovi are mentioned several times. A couple of mentions of people addicted to wine as well as to the sleeping aid. Memory of adults drinking wine late into the night, and one or two other mentions of adults drinking wine. Brief mention of people addicted to wine as well.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Epoca: The Tree of Ecrof is the first installment in a sports-themed, magical fantasy series created by the late NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and written by Ivy Claire. Ten-year-olds attend an elite sports academy where in their first year they concentrate exclusively on track-and-field events. The main characters are role models of sportsmanship, teamwork, and learning to trust your own inner strength and special talents. Girls and boys compete together in all events and winners are divided evenly between the two. There are lots of positive messages about the value of sports physically, mentally, and in building character. Kids are in peril from magical, supernatural events, one kids tries to hurt himself and breaks his wrist, and an accident causes a broken arm. A trickle of blood is mentioned. Everything resolves safely. Main character Rovi is an orphan, so parental loss is explored. Addiction to both wine and a fictional sleeping aid are mentioned several times with negative effects described. There's o romance or strong language. The main antagonist uses verbal bullying like name calling and hostility, as in trying to put others down.

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What's the story?

EPOCA: THE TREE OF ECROF tells the story of Pretia's and Rovi's first year at an elite sports academy. Pretia, who's 10, is the crown princess who will one day inherit the throne. But she's not interested in any of that; she just wants to train so she can participate in the kingdom's Epic Games held every four years. Rovi, also 10, is an orphan living on the streets and has to steal in order to eat. Each one is hiding a dark secret, but as mysterious and dangerous events unfold at the academy, their fears of being found out get worse. Can they learn to work as a team, and to trust and channel their inner magic for the good of the school and the kingdom?

Is it any good?

This track-and-field-themed magical fantasy series is off to an intriguing start and brimming with positive messages about the value of sports, teamwork, and trusting your inner strength. Epoca: The Tree of Ecrof alternates between Pretia's and Rovi's point of view, which keeps them relatable and helps us get to know them and the world they live in. Some of the parts between major events are slow and a bit long, but the deepening mysteries keep the pages turning. Kids will relate to Pretia and Rovi at a time when they're both eager to grow up and afraid of the changes and new powers inside themselves.

Readers who enjoyed Kobe Bryant's other sports-themed fantasies will find a lot more of the same here, but in a richly imagined, new setting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Epoca: The Tree of Ecrof shows Pretia and Rovi as role models. What are their character strengths? What are their weaknesses? Do you like them, or admire them?

  • We all know it's good to be physically active for your health. How do organized sports help you mentally, as well? What can they teach you about yourself, and about how to handle problems that come your way? How does teamwork help Pretia and Rovi?

  • What's your favorite sport? Which sports have you tried? Which ones would you like to try if you could?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports and fantasy stories

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