Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Review: The Imagination Station Attack at the Arena

In my effort to continue reading books yet lighten my load a bit, I have been choosing children's titles to review.  I recently read Attack at the Arena, an Adventures in Odyssey Imagination Station book, by Paul McCusker and Marianne Hering.  This is book 2 in the series.

My kids have loved listening to Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) over the years.  So this maybe comes naturally that the book will feel a bit like listening to an episode of AIO, where the characters go on an adventure in the Imagination Station.  The Imagination Station is a contraption that Mr. Whitaker built that allows kids' imaginations to come to life.  The kids seem to travel through time and have experiences that are very real.  They walk through history, especially Biblical history, and wrestle with making decisions (and the consequences of those decisions) along the way.  There is always a moral lesson to the story, and usually the Gospel is presented in some light-hearted way as well. 

In this current book series, a bit of a mystery unfolds as Mr. Whittaker receives some letters saying his relative, "Albert", is in danger and to save him he must collect some items.  Mr. Whittaker must use the Imagination Station to do so, but finds it won't work for him.  So he sends two kids on the quest, cousins Patrick and Beth.  In Attack at the Arena, the cousins head to ancient Rome, meet Emperor Honorius, and retrieve a silver cup.  There is some real history mixed in with the fiction here, which is explained by Mr. Whittaker in the final chapter. 

The book is recommended for ages 7 and up, and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is 2.3.  To test this out, I asked Zeke and Josh to read along with me.  Zeke is 7 years old and reading at a normal 1st grade level.  Josh is only 5 years old, but reading at almost the same level as Zeke.  Both boys were able to read most words without difficulty, and picked up on words I helped them with quickly.  Zeke's attention span petered out very quickly, but Josh wanted to keep reading as long as I would let him.  This is consistent with their personalities.  Some pencil drawings along the way aid in keeping their attention.

Overall it is a great book, good for your younger elementary AIO fans.  First graders may need some help reading, but second graders and older should be able to tackle this chapter book on their own.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Tyndale House Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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