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 Luck Uglies, the first volume of a planned fantasy adventure series, introduces an intriguing world with appealing characters and a great heroine in young Rye. While in many ways it's a classic good-against-evil tale in a magical world, there's also a strong theme of disobeying authority (whether of parents or oppressive political regimes) when the situation calls for it. Parents may want to take the opportunity for age-appropriate discussion of when such a decision might be called for. Much of the action takes place in a disreputable tavern and other settings of drunken carousing; adult characters drink alcohol and sometimes give the kids a taste. Rye's never known her father and suspects her sister's father is someone else. The kids are often in peril. Swordplay, combat with monsters, and encounters with heavily armed soldiers cause death and dismemberment among human, animal, and monster characters. Some characters are imprisoned in dungeons. The wicked Earl and his henchmen threaten to put hot tar on their prisoners' faces before sending them off to worse fates.
What's the story?
Eleven-year-old Riley (Rye) O'Chanter lives with her mom and younger sister, Lottie, in Village Drowning, where the wicked Earl oppresses the people and forbids girls to learn to read. The monstrous Bog Noblins who previously ravaged the town have officially been wiped out, but based on recent events, the villagers aren't so sure. Also officially nonexistent: the mysterious folk known as THE LUCK UGLIES, who have little respect for the Earl but can deal with the Bog Noblins. As Rye and her friends cope with strange occurrences and try to keep their families safe, a newly arrived mysterious stranger and his secrets are about to change everything the kids know.
Is it any good?
Durham introduces very appealing characters in smart, independent Rye and her loyal friends -- as well as her family and some other intriguing adults. He also puts them in thought-provoking situations that are more ethically complex than stereotypical good vs. evil. Like many first volumes in fantasy series, THE LUCK UGLIES has to spend a fair amount of time establishing a world and its terminology, some of which is explained in a glossary.
The Luck Uglies is a satisfying adventure that will leave many readers eager for the sequel.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about fantasy adventure series. Why are they so popular with kids? What others have your read? Think you'll stick wit this series? Why or why not?
How do you tell the difference between good guys and bad guys? Is it always reliable to trust what other people say about them?
If your family pets were magical beings in disguise, what powers would they have?
- Author: Paul Durham
- Illustrator: Petur Antonsson
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: April 29, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
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