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“No skill is more crucial to the future of a child, or to a democratic and prosperous society, than literacy.”
Summary: Charlotte (Lottie) Little was just 8 years old when her father died. That Christmas, her mother gave her a special gift: a gazing ball that had been in the family for generations, traveling from Europe to America long ago. Her family has protected the gazing ball against the Malignigh, who want to use it for evil. Lottie also learns that she has special powers, and in the months to come, she discovers how to work with the gazing ball to help others. When Lottie realizes that the Malignigh know where the ball is, she knows what she must do. This is a chapter book fantasy set in the Berkshire Hills (Massachusetts) in the 1850s.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 7 to 12; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 8 to 12
Age of Child: Read by students at Northumberland Elementary School, Newport News, VA for the Reading Tub's Use Your ABCs program.
Young Reader Reaction: It was interesting to learn about the powers of the gazing ball. They were hoping that the gazing ball would help her find out what happened to her father. Once we started reading they didn't want to stop.
Adult Reader Reaction: It took a while for this book to grab me. Once it did, though, it was a fast read. The story's outcome is somewhat predictable, but it is nice to read nonetheless.
Pros: This is a wholesome chapter-book fantasy.
Cons: There are practically no margins on the page. Your eyes tire quickly of all the content staring back at you. Some light editing will fix typos and run-on sentences.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a nice story, but it doesn't have the driving plot of others in this genre.
Educational Themes: The 19th century is very much in the background of this story. There are places where, if the setting was more in play, you could build on discussions about cultures, society, mysticism (what DID society think of people with "special" powers).
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