3 out of 4 stars
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Children are said to have a wild imagination. This is definitely true in the case of charming Evan, a boy full of energy and spirit. He is more than delighted to spend his holidays at Great Nana’s old house in Wales. Although Great Nana had died before Evan’s birth, his parents liked going there and honoring her memory.
On this particular occasion, Evan’s enthusiasm is even bigger because his best friends, Grayson and Violet, will join him too. He can’t wait to show them all his favorite places in the historic town of Llantwit Major. When they all visit Caerleon Castle, Evan’s father tells them wonderful legends about King Arthur, the wizard Merlin, wicked witches, and almighty dragons. Soon they will be dragged into a wild adventure. Their journey into the past will test their limits and make them reconsider their former beliefs about myths and magic.
Evan and Friends Meet and Ancient King by Chris Williams is a 62-page story dedicated to the author’s grandson, Evan Hywel Hodgson. The dedication deeply touched my heart, especially since this is only book 1 in a planned series featuring Evan and his friends. Moreover, 50% of the proceeds will go to Demelza, an organization supporting children with terminal conditions. From this perspective, I highly appreciate the author’s warmth and generosity.
As any book for children should be, this novella is both entertaining and educational. It is cleverly organized into small sections so that children could focus and read without getting bored. Full of suspense and action, the story flows smoothly and keeps readers tuned in. Moreover, children will learn many interesting facts about King Arthur, Lady Guinevere, the famous wizard Merlin, and the equally famous knights Lancelot and Galahad. In general, the vocabulary the author uses is not overly complicated. However, whenever there are more difficult words like “superstitions” or “jousting”, the author makes sure he provides detailed explanations of the respective terms.
Young readers of the book will certainly find the characters relatable. This is the thing I have enjoyed most because it creates a special bond between potential readers and the main characters in the story. I wish Grayson and Violet had more clearly distinguishing personalities, but Evan stands out from the crowd. He is the embodiment of kindness, courage, and inquisitiveness. Together with the three protagonists, readers will learn valuable lessons like the importance of friendship, altruism, and perseverance.
Unfortunately, the book needs another round of proofreading and editing. Even if there were only punctuation mistakes like missing commas or periods, they were the thing I liked least. As I have to take away one point for the editing, I am rating this book 3 out of 4 stars. The good development of the plot and characters is doubled by lively dialogues, unique settings, and vivid illustrations. The book does not include any profane language or violent scenes. I am recommending it primarily to elementary and middle school children with a penchant for adventure and mystery. Teachers could also confidently select it for an optional course or a reading club.
Evan and Friends Meet an Ancient King
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