A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.