Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review: The Foundlings

As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I got another chance to learn about a company I had never heard of.  This company is Zoe and Sozo Publishing, the author is Matthew Christian Harding.  He has a fascinating testimony, and is currently a homeschooling father of four.

Living in a house full of boys, there are a few things that are pretty much guaranteed to excite my family.  Knights and Lords and even damsels in distress.  Swords.  Dragons.  Giants.  Dinosaurs.  Creepy sea monsters.  Cool technology.  Pet wolves.  Protagonists who are clearly good (but certainly not perfect) and antagonists who are clearly evil. Cliff-hangers. 

I never thought I'd find all of that in a single book.

I wanted to love this book, but I did find I had a couple of issues.  One is that I don't particularly like when the characters in a book start preaching.  I don't know, I guess I want the story to carry the message without pages upon pages of proselytizing.

And I had a tough time meshing the medieval-ish customs and setting with the shortly after the Tower of Babel timeline.  As I got further into the story, I was able to deal with that, but it was a struggle for me.

The other issue I had is probably a bit nit-picky, but there were a few places where there were homophone issues.   Past/passed or shone/shown.  Those are the pairs I remember.  In each case, it slowed me way down as I read aloud to my children, as with the wrong spelling, I couldn't figure out what the sentence meant. 

My kids?  They loved the book.  They didn't mind the preaching, in fact, they spent time discussing what else Thiery should have said.  They didn't know about the homophone issues, only that I would stop reading and look confused for a moment or two.

They love the giants, they love the dwarves (who are human -- particularly short humans, but human).  They love the dragon/dinosaurs.  They identify with the 13 year old Thiery.  They enjoyed the historical fiction aspects, particularly that they could argue (the good sense of argue) about why certain aspects of the book were plausible.  They appreciated the references to Job, especially that Thiery found a written copy.

In fact, all three of my older kids have quietly approached me since we completed the book to inquire about purchasing it for a Christmas or birthday gift for one or more of their brothers.  At $11.95, that is within their reach. 

Other things I feel I should mention.  The publisher recommends this book for ages 10 and up.  My 9 year old loved it, but he is nearly 10.  One reason that this is meant for older kids is some of the topics.  You have dragons attacking people, you have priests offering human sacrifices, including their own children (all of the people "sacrificed" in the actual storyline are rescued, but there is brief mention of past sacrifices), and there are certainly more than a few tense moments.  This was not an issue for my family.  In our Old Testament studies this past year, we've certainly read far worse descriptions of the child sacrifice rituals of pagan cultures.

All in all, I'm glad we own this book and I'm glad we read it.  And while this will never make my top ten historical fiction titles, I do look forward to reading the sequel after Christmas. 

You can check out what my fellow crew-mates have to say about Foundlings at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a free book from Zoe and Sozo Publishing.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.


Heather Laurie said...

Debra I am with you on this one. The idea is good but the editing was not. This was a hard one for me I could not recommend it :(

God bless
Heather Laurie

Just an Average American Mom said...

Good review.

My boys loved it but my daughter and myself did not enjoy it.

The writing style is hard to follow but I did order the second book because this one cuts you off.

I also did not like that fact either. To continue and find out the rest of the story a purchase must be made. UGH!!!

Catherine said...

I had some of the same issues as you, but I do appreciate his effort. I just made a comment on a different blog that I do hope his success will allow him to employ a good editor.