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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 Rithmatist is a magic-filled fantasy novel that stresses in the importance of education and scholarship. Language and sexual content are nearly nonexistent, and there is no use of alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. The violent content is limited mostly to attacks by "chalklings," animated drawings that can bite people to death, and while these scenes are somewhat gruesome, they aren't enough to scare most older tween readers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Joel wants nothing more than to become a Rithmatist, a scholar/soldier able to work magic through chalk drawings, but he's not allowed to take the classes that would teach him their practices. But when Rithmatist students of the Armedius Academy begin disappearing, Joel joins forces with a disgraced professor and a reluctant female schoolmate to investigate the presumed kidnappings. Soon, he himself is a target, and he must solve a mystery with implications for all of the United Isles of America.
Is it any good?
THE RITHMATIST may be a fantasy with little middle ground for its readers. Many will find the intricate system of magic devised by author Brandon Sanderson and illustrated by Ben McSweeney completely enchanting. Others may find their eyes glazing over after pages and pages of discussions about drawing geometric figures and battling two-dimensional, animated critters known as "chalklings." Except for a brief prologue, even the chalklings are kept out of sight for the first three-quarters of the novel, leaving the book without a clear sense of suspense.
The steampunk-ish society that has arisen in the United Isles is full of potential, but Sanderson needs to up the narrative ante and cut down on the exposition if he wants readers to follow Joel and Melody into the next installment in this series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some of the messages in the book. Why are poor students sometimes excluded from classes or activities that wealthier students are able to enjoy? What do you think the author intends by including this kind of issue in the novel?
After reading this book, do you have an opinion about whether it is better to focus all your efforts on mastering one particular field of study or developing skills in a broader range of subjects?
Is this the kind of book that teaches something educational? What, if anything, did you learn from reading this book?
- Author: Brandon Sanderson
- Illustrator: Ben McSweeney
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Great Boy Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Tor Teen
- Publication date: May 14, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.