What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Phoenix is a fast-moving, exciting adventure in which author Jeff Stone launches a new series, set in today's world, as a follow-up to his Five Ancestors series, which tells of five 17th-century orphans proficient in kung fu, and how they saved China. Here, 400 years later, young Phoenix Collins, a 13-year-old orphan with a passion for bicycle racing and training in kung fu, embarks on a quest to save his grandfather's life. There's plenty of physical combat with both bad guys and kung fu masters; a number of weapon-brandishing villains end up dead, some at each other's hands and some killed by one of the good guys. While described with gusto, much of the fighting has the comically over-the-top quality of mythological kung fu movies rather than excess gore. Published just before Lance Armstrong's fall from grace, the book has one of the characters idolizing the bike legend. The subject of doping by bicycle racers and other athletes is central to the story, and clearly viewed unfavorably.
What's the story?
Phoenix Collins, son of a redheaded father from Indiana and a Chinese mother born in China, lost both parents in an accident when he was a baby. Raised in Indiana by his Chinese grandfather, who's trained him well in kung fu, the 13-year-old is a skilled and passionate bicycle racer. After thieves steal a mysterious powder made of ancient dragon bone from their home, putting his grandfather's life in danger, Phoenix heads to China in search of more dragon bone -- a quest that connects him with sometimes helpful, sometimes dicey characters, as it turns out many people want dragon bone for themselves.
Is it any good?
Fans of author Jeff Stone's Five Ancestors series will be delighted with PHOENIX, which brings the issues and cosmic conflicts into the lives of today's kids. Kids who are into bicycle racing, martial arts and/or Chinese mythology will find plenty of fascinating detail and fast-moving adventures; they'll also get life lessons on such subjects as consideration, kindness, and family loyalty. The complex, interesting characters include a teenage girl and an old Chinese lady, who are fully equal to or better than their male friends and adversaries in key areas, including martial arts and bike-riding skills, as well as outsmarting villains. While generally age-appropriate, the story will appeal to adult genre fans as well as kids. As the first book in a new series, Phoenix avoids the frequent pitfalls of spending too much time in world-building or overselling the previous, related series; it works well as its own story, and leaves readers wanting to know what happens next with these characters.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about performance-enhancing drugs, which may also be life-saving drugs for some people, and the ethics, as well as the pros and cons, of using them.
Martial arts, Chinese mythology, and bicycle racing are all compelling subjects with lots of fans -- is it a good thing to have them all so important in this story, or too much of a good thing?
How does the China that Phoenix experiences compare with the one you have read about, seen in movies or TV travel shows, or perhaps visited?
|Topics:||Magic and fantasy, Sports and martial arts, Adventures, Friendship|
|Publisher:||Random House Books for Young Readers|
|Publication date:||September 25, 2012|
|Number of pages:||288|
|Publisher's recommended age(s):||9 - 17|
|Available on:||Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook|