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In 1999, 53 percent of children ages 3 to 5 were read to daily by a family member, the same as in 1993 after increasin... More
Summary: Keegan, with the loss of his parents, must now make all his own decisions. As he searches for a place to call home, he strikes up a friendship with a jaguar he calls Adrian, to honor his mother. When he is taken in by a family in Crempton, he believes he has found a place to call home, even though it means keeping his secret a while longer. In the village, Keegan meets Nora, a young girl with a healthy ego who is prone to pranks and lies. When one of Nora's boasts results in her kidnapping, Adrian knows he must make amends and reveal his secret to save her. This is a young adult fantasy that offers a journey of friendship and responsibility.
Type of Reading: independent reading
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Young Reader Reaction: Journey to the Homeland is an impressive accomplishment for a teen author. The plot is very nicely developed, fast-paced, and includes many unexpected events that all work to shape the course of the journey and the characters' experience. The characters, especially Keegan and Nora, are skillfully formed and developed throughout the story. They have distinct personalities that contrast with the other characters. Over time, as their journey unfolds, different aspects are revealed, making them seem more real instead of only black-and-white. This book is most suitable for kids from 7 to 9, because it would be the right reading level and because the lessons about the world, about others, and about themselves that the characters acquire are applicable to this audience as well. Overall, this book presents a well-written, engaging story of two youngsters who, together, have the ultimate adventure.
Adult Reader Reaction: This was a fun read. Not normally a fan of fantasy, I found this book to be a page turner. The author has crafted a story with strong, realistic characters. Although set in an imaginary world, the personalities, events, and choices are well grounded. Her skills as a writer are quite polished. You wouldn't recognize this as a book by a teen unless you knew it ahead of time.
Pros: There is something for everyone in this book. Parents will love the wholesome story, and themes of friendship and personal responsibility. Teens will love the adventure and suspense.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is an excellent selection for avid readers and reluctant readers alike.
Educational Themes: Keegan and Nora, the central characters in the story, are well developed. Readers have the opportunity to "participate" in their journey of friendship and personal discovery. This is an excellent choice for book club discussions with pre-teens and teens alike.
Literary Categories: Fiction - adventure, animal characters, fantasy, Christian