A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Box and the Dragonfly is the first in the Keepers fantasy series about a boy who discovers a magical object with special powers meant only for him and becomes a Keeper. Bad guys want the object -- specifically, a very creepy, impossibly large man smelling of brimstone who's always in pursuit. Plenty of readers will get spooked by him. There's also a house fire, some kidnappings, and fights with golems made of moving rock. When a Keeper's object is stolen, he or she loses hope and almost all sense of self. Horace, who's very bright and careful, and his brave and determined friend Chloe make a loyal team worth rooting for. Book 2 in the series, The Harp and the Ravenine, comes out March 1, 2016.
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What's the story?
On the bus on his way home from school, Horace can't help noticing a sign with his name on it: Horace F. Andrews. How odd. When he hops off the bus to take a closer look, a strange, thin man follows him. He instinctively runs away and happens upon an alley with the sign "House of Answers." That must have been what he saw. After he answers a riddle to get in, it just gets weirder. A hallway filled with birdcages and a room with many crazy objects labeled in even crazier ways ("Oblong," "Unsavory," "Misplaced") awaits him. A woman tells him to sign in and come back the next day. He gets to choose an object and picks a box he can see through. He's not sure what he's seeing but is too intrigued to part with it. At night the experiments begin as he tries to find out what powers the box holds. Little does he know that he's become a Keeper of one of the most powerful and rare objects around. It leads him to a new friend, Chloe, a Keeper with very different powers, and a whole world of Wardens trying to keep creatures like the impossibly thin man away.
Is it any good?
Here's hoping this book finds a large audience; it's a great find for readers who love to puzzle out the twists and turns of a story. Author Ted Sanders is about 10 frustrating steps ahead, no matter how bright you are, and it's all thanks to Horace's ingenious little box. The climax of the story takes up almost the last 100 pages, because readers see through Horace's box a possible outcome a whole day ahead of the main action. From there you'll spend almost as much time speed-reading as you spend pondering, "Well, if this happens, then this has to happen, but what if ... ?"
At 544 pages, it's a long haul, but it's entertaining most of the way. The time spent developing Horace and Chloe's friendship is definitely worth it. They're a great pair worth rooting for. Sometimes the adults -- such as Mr. Meister -- seem to string out the mystery way longer than needed. Kids are not always patient, especially when adults hold out on the truth. Then the cliffhanger comes on the very last page, guaranteeing that the next book will be another amazing find.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what you would do with Horace's box. How long do you think it would take you to find out what it does?
How does this book compare with other fantasy stories you've read? Are you anxious for the next book in the series?
Would you rather have the box or the dragonfly? What do you think would be a good match for your personality and gifts?
- Author: Ted Sanders
- Illustrator: Iacopo Bruno
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Harper
- Publication date: March 3, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 544
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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