Posts Tagged ‘best books for boys’

Artemis Fowl: Fun Book Series for Boys (and Girls)

Sunday, January 17th, 2010


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Review of Artemis Fowl Books

Why is it so hard to find good books for tween boys?  When my 6th-grade daughter goes to the library, we come out with stacks and stacks of books. But when I take my 4th-grade son, we often come out empty-handed. Or we get a book, he reads a few pages, and pronounces it “boring.”

When he is hooked on a book series, however, he can’t get enough.  Recently he just finished two book series for boys he loved: Percy Jackson & the Olympians and Ranger’s Apprentice.  My daughter mentioned that boys in her class liked a series called Artemis Fowl. So at a recent trip to the library I checked out the first two Artemis Fowl books.

I starting reading the first book just to see what it was about, and I could not put it down. Within a couple of days I was back at the library getting the rest of the series and all three of us devoured them.

Kudos to the author, Eoin Colfer, for plots, characters, and action and humor that appealed to all of us.

Colfer’s hero (or perhaps anti-hero) Artemis is a super-bright, rich, articulate 12-year-old with supreme confidence.  He is also a criminal mastermind intent on amassing an even greater fortune. The kid comes up with brilliant plots, and his buff bodyguard Butler, who is trained in martial arts and carries array of lethal high-tech gadgets, helps him to carry them out.

When we first meet Artemis, he is planning to rob gold from fairies. But these are not your typical fairies. “Die Hard with fairies” is how Irish author Eoin Colfer describes his books.  His magical beings are an advanced civilization with amazing technology and powerful weapons.

Colfer’s inventive plots have tons of twists and surprises that pull you through the adventures.

The settings include Fowl Manor, where the Artemis has a mansion any boy would envy, various places around the world Artemis flies to in his private jet, and the Lower Elements, the world inhabited magical beings, which Colfer describes in rich detail.

Readers come to know quirky, charismatic characters with an edge, among them:

Artemis Fowl, a preteen prodigy with a huge bank account and the toughest bodyguard in the world. Although he is greedy and ruthless, Artemis can do the right thing at times. He is still figuring out his place in the moral order.

Domovoi Butler, a loyal bodyguard with cool weapons who has no problem taking orders from a 12-year-old.

Captain Holly Short
, a gutsy female LEPrecon officer who sometimes bends the rules to save the day

Foaly, a wise-cracking techie centaur who is a genius in his own right coming up with amazing gadgets that give his side an edge

Mulch Diggums, a dwarf thief who uses explosive flatulence to help tunnel his way into places through impenetrable.

Opal Koboi, Foaly’s nemesis, an evil genius pixie who comes up with diabolical (and extremely clever) plans to rule the world

Accelerated Reading and Artemis Fowl Books
The Artemis Fowl books have accelerated reader tests.  The accelerated reading interest level is between 5 and 6AR Points for Artemis Fowl books range from 10-13.  Adults will enjoy them as well.

Artemis Fowl Movie
A film based on the first two books is reportedly in development. A script has been written, but the film been delayed several times.

Artemis Fowl Series Books

Artemis Fowl (book 1)

Artemis Fowl: Arctic Incident, (book 2)

Artemis Fowl: Eternity Code, (book3)

Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception (book 4)

Artemis Fowl: Lost Colony, (book 5)

Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox (book 6)

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex (book 7)

Other Artemis Fowl books
The Artemis Fowl Files (2004)
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel (2007)
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel: The Arctic Incident (2009)
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel: The Eternity Code (20xx)

My son, almost 10,  ranks the Percy Jackson and Ranger’s series above Artemis Fowl, but I think I actually liked the Artemis Fowl series better.  Lots of humor and wit with likable characters and inventive plots.  Action packed but not scary.  Artemis Fowl books rate among the best books for middle school boys. Let me know if you like Artemis Fowl, and if you have other books to recommend to this age group.

If you read the first book in the Artemis fowl series, you will want to read them all.  Amazon a boxed set of the first five Artemis Fowl books. The set would make a great gift for a tween boy.

LEGO Brand Retail, Inc.

related posts:

My review of the Ranger’s Apprentice series

My review of the Percy Jackson series

Battle of the Boys Books: Percy Jackson vs. Ranger’s Apprentice

Lego Rock Band Review

Percy Jackson vs. Ranger’s Apprentice

Thursday, January 14th, 2010


I asked my almost-10-year-old son a tough question: if you were stranded on a desert island, and could only take one book series, which would you take: Ranger’s Apprentice Series or Percy Jackson series He had a tough time. Finally he noted that one series had more books. So maybe he would pick that one. Otherwise it’s a dead heat.

Finding good books for boys his age is so hard I am thrilled he is so excited about both these series. He is also reading the Artemis Fowl Series now, but Percy Jackson and Ranger’s Apprentice have him begging me to take him to the library, and when the books are not there, to the book store.

Both Ranger’s Apprentice and Percy Jackson series published new books in January, 2010. Book number 7 of the Ranger’s Apprentice series came out in January, and a special “movie”edition” of book 1 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians came out as well. I’ve found that most of the books in both series have waiting lists at our library, (LA County Library system).

Lightening Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson series

The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series

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The Ruins of Gorlan, the first book in the Ranger's Apprentice Series

Number of Books in the Series

Both writers Rick Riordan and John Flanagan are prolific, coming up with new adventures for their young heros (who age as the books continue). In the U.S. the score is Percy Jackson: 5 books, and Ranger’s Apprentice: 7. Flanagan has written 10 Ranger books, but the last three have not yet been released in America.

AR Rating

Both books have AR tests.  Ranger’s Apprentice has a slightly interest level (between 6 and 7) than Percy Jackson (between 4 and 5).  This means they probably appeal to readers in 6 and 7th grade vs those in 4th and 5th grade. Although I think both books appeal to a much wider range.

Ranger’s Apprentice books also have higher AR points possible (between 12 and 14). AR points for Percy Jackson range from 3 to 13 with many between 9 and 10.

Action

Both series are packed with suspenseful action and plot development.  Both feature both battle strategy and detailed descriptions of battles.  Both have fierce enemies.  Both have cool weapons. Percy Jackson has more mythological characters.

History

Although both series are fictional adventure stories, they both teach you something about history and culture. In Percy Jackson books you learn about Greek mythology, and in Ranger’s Apprentice books you learn about Medieval times.

Characters

Both have likable, young, male protagonists with various sidekicks and friends. Ranger’s may have more in-depth character development of some of the characters.

Movies

We’ve already seen the trailers for the first Percy Jackson movie, based on The Lightning Thief. The movie is due out next month (Feb). Ranger’s Apprentice has a script and a director, but no word on when it might be out.

Video Games

Nintendo has a game in the works based on the first book and movie of Percy Jackson. The video game is a tactical role-playing game for Nintendo DS that puts players in command of Percy Jackson and his fellow demigods as they battle for survival in a world ruled by vengeful Greek gods. Nintendo says the game will be in stores when the movie comes out. No word on a video game for Ranger’s Apprentice as of yet.

Cover Art

It’s interesting to see what publishers come up with for cover art for tween and teen readers. My kids are voracious readers, and as a graphic artist I appreciate the thought and creativity put into book covers. The U.S. editions of both Percy Jackson and Ranger’s Apprentice series are stunning. As a personal preference, I like Ranger’s a bit more.  Pubishers sometimes change the cover art when they release books in different countries or when they do a second printing.  If you do a Google image search you will see differences in covers in both of these series.

Accolades

Both books have garnered praise from critics and been on the New York Times best-sellers list. Both have been published in several different countries.

Websites

Both books have official websites, and to be honest, I find both annoying, just because they take too long to load and I do not always like background music or spooky rainfall and wind howling. Kids probably love it though. On the Ranger site you can log in to become a “Ranger” and get access to more info on the site. Even without doing that you can download beautiful graphics for your desktop. There’s some interesting info about the author. On the Percy site there is a page describing all the Olympian Gods and Monsters. It also has downloadable games and wallpaper. You can also access the trailer for the new movie.

Rick Riordan has an author’s website that has some additional features without all the fancy sounds and effects.

My reviews

My review of the Ranger’s Apprentice series
My review of the Percy Jackson series
My review of the Artemis Fowl series
My review of Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice book series

Let me know how you think how these two great book series compare. Both books have special deals on sets on Amazon.

Ranger’s Apprentice Series: Book Review

Thursday, January 14th, 2010


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Rangers Apprentice Book Series: Suspenseful Adventure for Boys (and the rest of us)

The fantasy genre is hot in literature right now, which is good news for tween boys. My 10-year-old son raves about the Ranger Apprentice books by Australian writer John Flanagan, which make new twists of Medieval tales of knights and castles. When he finishes one book, he can’t wait for the next. Many of his peers at school are reading it as well. The Ranger Apprentice series has been on the New York Times bestsellers list and has sold more than a million copies in the US alone. The books have sold a million more copies in other countries, and is the number 1 book in the the author’s native Australia.

I started reading them to see why he loved them and I love them, too. So they are not just for adolescent boys!

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The Ranger’s Apprentice books are an epic tale about Will, a orphan small in size, who has always dreamed of becoming a knight, like the father he never knew. Instead, he is adopted into the mysterious Ranger corps. Will is joined on fast-paced adventures to defend the kingdom by his mentor, Halt, and his best friend, Horace, among others. With his crossbow and a couple of knives, Will battles fierce enemies, overcomes suspenseful obstacles, and learns that what he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed, agility, intelligence and courage. Honesty and loyalty also matter.

The plot keeps you on the edge, wondering what is going to happen next. While reading the adventure, young readers learn about Medieval life with surprising accuracy.

Flanagan’s take on feudal good-versus-evil does not depend on tons of magical creatures to keep the reader interested, but rather plain old good writing. The books have suspenseful well-paced plots, sympathetic characters with interesting relationships, and detailed, colorful descriptions of Medieval times.

Critics have praised the books, as have Amazon readers who submitted exceptional reviews. I’d love to know what you think of Ranger’s Apprentice books.

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Will there be a Ranger’s Apprentice movie? United Artists reportedly paid seven figures to option the film rights, and it was supposed to come out in 2010 with Paul Haggis directing, but may have had funding problems. No word yet when it may come out.

Google Preview now allows you to get a limited preview of many books so I have embedded a preview for the first Ranger’s Apprentice. To get a real sense of the book, though, preview chapter 2 (not just chapter 1) because it is more representative of the tone and style of the series. The first chapter is not as good as the rest. To preview, just click on Google Preview button below.


If you are buying a Ranger’s Apprentice book as a gift, consider Amazon’s deal on The Ranger’s Apprentice Collection. Reviews of the Reviews of Amazon’s Ranger’s Apprentice Collection have been high. This collection would be one of the best gifts for a boy, and you get the first three books in the series for the price of one inexpensive toy.

Flanagan has written 10 books in the series. Seven have been released in the U.S. so far.

The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1)

The Burning Bridge (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 2)

The Icebound Land: Book Three (Ranger’s Apprentice)

The Battle for Skandia: Book Four (Ranger’s Apprentice)

The Sorcerer of the North: Book Five (Ranger’s Apprentice)

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Siege of Macindaw: Book 6

Erak’s Ransom (Ranger’s Apprentice Book 7)

Ranger’s Apprentice: The Kings of Clonmel: Book 8

Halt’s Peril (Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 9)

The Emperor of Nihon-Jin This book is not available on Amazon yet.

Note that the books come out in Australia first.  The last one to come out in the U.S. is book 7, Erak’s Ransom, which came out in January, 2010. The later books have not been released in the U.S., although you may be able to get them from sellers who import them and re-sell them.  We were lucky enough to have a friend visiting Australia and she bought them in a bookstore there for us. Check the links above to order through Amazon.

Books in the Ranger’s Apprentice series have Accelerated Reading tests available, so if your school uses AR tests, you can get points. They have an interest level ranging from middle grade to upper grade, usually a high 6 or 7. Taking a test and getting the answers right will earn you 12-14 AR points.

My son would definitely put these books on a best books for boys list. I’ve found these books often have waiting lists at the library, so be sure to get the next one in the series if it is available. You may have to put your name on a waiting list. Because they are popular, they can also be hard to find in stock in bookstores.

Related posts:
Percy Jackson & the Olympians book series review
Percy Jackson & the Olympians vs. Ranger’s Apprentice

Artemis Fowl book series review

How to Get free Tickets to Legoland California

Review of a Great Surf School in Northern San Diego, CA


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