Wednesday, May 28, 2008

North Woods Poachers: Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: North Woods Poachers
Author: Max Elliot Anderson
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, age 9-12, Christian
Publication: Tweener Press, 2004
Format: Paperback book
ISBN: 978-0972925686
Retail Price: $10.95



Disclosure: The author sent me a review copy of this book for the purpose of writing a review.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Max Eliot Anderson says his goal is to write books for reluctant reader boys to give them books which they will want to read and will enjoy reading. He wants boys to love reading. Also he wants good books which are age appropriate. He has written a number of books that are especially of interest to boys, they are mysteries. Each book has a different set of characters.

“North Woods Poachers” is about two families, two brothers and their wives and children. The two main characters are two boy cousins. Two girl cousins are in the book as well. The two families are taking their annual vacation trip to a lake in the Canadian wilderness. The boys are sick of going fishing every year and wished their vacation was more exciting. One of the boys is into computers and electronics and has brought along all kinds of new technology to play around with, as his father gets new products to test out as part of his job. The book therefore has an interesting blend of wilderness and nature with the most modern technology. Boy readers who like computers and technology and the idea of spying and spy gadgets will like that aspect of the book.

The mystery unfolds and as you can imagine the kids are working to solve it. Each chapter ends with a bit of a cliff hanger leaving the reader to want to go on to read the next chapter. The excitement builds as the story moves forward and the reader is held in suspense and is anxious to find out how the story resolves.

The book has a few Christian references in it. These are light, such as a boy talking about the word prey and pray and mentions his family prays before dinner. Yet when they eat dinner as a family it is not mentioned that they prayed (so the religious content is not heavy). As with all children-solving-mystery books, the kids break some rules and are put in danger. Later instead of just letting that go the father addressed with the kids what they did wrong and how they were put in danger with what they did and how it might not have been the best thing to do. Those are examples of the very light, in my opinion, Christian content. The book is not preachy. Also although the two families are Christian the kids are not sickening sweet. The boys have a fair amount of sarcasm and complaining “this vacation is boring” and so on, in a way that is pretty true to life for many boys of that age. Note I asked my son if this was a religious book with Christian references and he said "no", so he didn't even pick up on it.

When my 10.5 year old son read this book he was riveted. He read it over three days including staying up late into the night reading the last third of the book as he just had to find out what happened. I also was anxious to know what happened and read the book in one day.

As an adult I will say that the book seems to be action and suspense driven. There is a good amount of dialogue. I felt the characters were not deeply developed, unlike other books where we come to love the characters and care what happens to them—in this book we want to hear the mystery story and find out what happens to resolve the mystery.

The last important thing I want to mention is the layout of the book and the font. The book is different than most books published for reading for kids aged 9-12. The font is a bit larger. There is wider spacing and there is more white space on the page on both the interior and exterior margins. This happens to be very good for my son who was recently diagnosed with an eye tracking problem (convergence insufficiency). Children with undiagnosed or diagnosed eye tracking problems prefer books with wider spacing and more white space on the page. For that reason this book is easier for all kids to read, as the eyes can move faster across the page. It is especially good for those with eye tracking conditions to read than books with smaller font that is all squished onto the page with thin margins or words that go deep into the binding of the book.

I am giving this book 4 stars because I reserve 5 star ratings for children’s books on par with The Chronicles of Narnia and other fantastic classics.



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1 comment:

Sara Cornthwaite said...

Hi Christine,

Max Elliot Anderson sent us a link to this Blog Post as we (my company, Big Guy Books) too are helping reluctant readers through our books. We had no idea about the eye tracking problems and are definitely going to start adding in more white space between the text on our pages. Our books are different from Max's in the way that our books are more of a bridge to help proprell readers into chapter books. They are in a "movie-style" format with great realistic pictures on almost every page that engages the reader to want to keep reading. Each book in our main adventure series, Time Soldiers, gradually has more words so the child is actually reading more with each book. You can download a free copy of the first book in this series from this site: http://www.freedinosaurbook.com. Or if you would like to check out our website and see all of our books, go here: http://www.bigguybooks.com. We would love to get in touch with you. You can contact me at sara@bigguybooks.com or 800-536-3030 x103.