Friday, November 2, 2012

Book Review: Imagination Station Books 8 and 9

I have reviewed other books in this series before, and been so very impressed.  So I didn't have to think at all about whether I wanted to review the two newest ones.  Of course I did.

The Imagination Station is a feature from Adventures in Odyssey that essentially serves as a time machine, taking (in the case of the books) twins Patrick and Beth back in time to various adventures.

I reviewed Attack at the Arena, which is the second book in the series, a year and a half ago.  We read Books 3-4 a bit over a year ago. Most recently, I reviewed Book 5-6.  Those books (and the first one) built on each other, as Beth and Patrick went on a series of adventures to save Albert.

Somehow, I think I missed that Book 7, Secret of the Prince's Tomb, was out.  I need to purchase that.

The past couple weeks, I've had the chance to read Battle for Cannibal Island (#8) and Escape to the Hiding Place (#9).  One big change is that these stories are no longer following the story arc with Hugh and Albert. These titles totally stand alone.

At roughly 130 pages, these books took me about a half hour each to read.  They are a very quick read for someone who reads well.  For my struggling readers, though, these books are simply fabulous.  Lots of action, lots of little cliff-hangers, and both a boy and girl main character.

These are written with some repetitive vocabulary, so while my boys had a tough time with some of the words the first time they encountered it, because it was used a few more times, they were seeing it enough to get comfortable with it.  For the record, this wasn't something I noticed as I read the stories myself.  It was in listening to my kids that I heard it.

Every time I hear someone asking about books for their boys who are past the easy readers but still needing just basic chapter books, I recommend this series.  These two books only reinforced that for me.  (And I'm quite sure it is good for girls too... but people don't tend to ask me about books for girls!)

Battle for Cannibal Island a visit to Fiji in 1852.  Beth spends time with James Calvert, a missionary in this area.  Patrick spends time with a British sailor and the king of the cannibals of the island.  What is really fun is that at the end of the story, there is a page with a bit of historical information about both the cannibals and Calvert.

Escape to the Hiding Place:  the twins land in the middle of Nazi-controlled Holland, and help to smuggle a Jewish baby to the ten Boom household. Most of the story involves them interacting with the Dutch Resistance, or trying to get to the watch shop.  Again, there is historical information at the end of the story.

The downsides of these stories -- like many other series for this reading level, the books are formulaic and fairly predictable, so they aren't necessarily fascinating reading for Mom.  But the predictability is a good thing for the kids.  My 13 year old is reading this a lot faster than he did the earlier books, which means he is enjoying it more.  With books 5-6, it was taking longer to read the material, which tended to make him really frustrated with the storyline.  Now that he can go through it faster, he enjoys it.

My 8 and 11 year olds think the books are great.  The older guys noticed that Patrick and Beth seem to catch on to what is going on a little quicker now too, and they figure that all of these Imagination Station adventures have led to Beth & Patrick paying more attention to their history classes...

Oh, and book 10, Challenge on the Hill of Fire, takes place in the time of St. Patrick. It is due out in January.  We're getting it for sure.

Disclaimer:   I received these books for free from Tyndale House Publishers.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

1 comment:

Heather@Cultivated Lives said...

We just read our first one in this series for my son's book club. He loved it and I was thinking about getting some more. Thanks for the positive review. We'll have to look into getting some more of them.