Presents for Your Children

Posted on: 12/08/2011 Back to all blog posts

This holiday season we are emphasizing important works of culture with an icing of Arctic and Antarctic adventure. A number of our novels will be half-price through December 11th.

At Royal Fireworks Press we use historical novels to introduce children to significant events, cultures, and literature. We endeavor to give children an enriching alternative to the trivia that is so prevalent in their environment. The novels we have chosen are about important themes, relationships, and people, together with adventure in the most challenging environments on Earth.

In Taking Control by Ann Love, we introduce elementary aged children to Alexander the Great. Alexander is the single leader who towers above his contemporaries so much that men who came later felt themselves a failure when they reached the age of 33 (when Alexander died) and found their accomplishments insignificant by comparison. This novel gives children information about Alexander and what an extraordinary person he was.

Another story about the culture of ancient Greece is Jason and Medea by Linda Cargill, which interprets the myth from the point of view of Medea. This is a far more female-centered interpretation of the story of Jason and the Argonauts than usual, and Medea’s disavowal of her family to save them from the slaughter her father so treacherously planned. This novel gives life and meaning to a story that is usually reduced to a paragraph, if students are introduced to it at all. For children of 13 and older.

In the present world in which children are growing up, one of the defining relationships is that between Islam and the Western world. Two novels by Gary Robert Muschla for young adults provide an introduction to the relations between Christians and Muslims in the Middle Ages. Crusaders looks at the experience of Christians headed for the Holy Land and some of what went wrong when they got there. The Sword and the Cross is set in tenth-century Spain and explores relations between the Moors and the Christians.

Among the many subjects never covered in the standard curriculum is the Spanish Enlightenment, but it is the essential background for understanding Goya, the most important artist of the first half of the nineteenth century. Through Goya’s Eyes by Dorothy Ricci, gives students insight into the period, ”primarily from the perspective of Gaspar Jovellanos, Spain’s leading man of letters and a friend of Goya’s. This is an excellent enriching historical novel for kids aged 13 or more.

Two other novels for young adults focus on British explorers in the Antarctic. The first is Surviving Erebus, by John Barell, and it gives a superb and well-researched account of the voyage of Captain Ross and his crew to the Antarctic that began in 1839. Ross was a meticulous planner and enabled the cataloging of much of the land, ice, and animals of the Antarctic; the Ross Ice Shelf is named after him, and the volcanoes Erebus and Terror were named after his ships. By contrast, Robert Falcon Scott, who died with his entire team returning after reaching the South Pole in 1812, is an account of a brave but less well-prepared explorer. The Ghost Memoirs of Robert Falcon Scott by Ken Darby tells his story through a fictional Internet dialog. Both are good novels for young adults on the exploration of the Antarctic.

Master storyteller Paul Sullivan has written three exciting novels about the Canadian Arctic. Legend of the North is the story of a special white wolf, the spirit of animals, and the interaction of men and animals in the far north. Keewatin is about a man stalked across the frozen wastes of the far north by a polar bear. Both are suitable for children as young as ten, but are compelling enough to be read by adults. The Unforgiving Land is a darker novel, more appropriate for children 13 or older. It is told in a double narrative as the past and present intertwine in a perfectly balanced novel of white man’s greed, the temptations of modern conveniences, Inuit transgressions, and Natur’s ultimate revenge.

The special price of $4.00 (plus shipping), is valid until 12.00 midnight on Sunday 11th December.

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