I’m finding it difficult to come up with a manner in which to review this book. I’m obviously not within its primary demographic, being a thirty…something year old male and not a middle grade reader. Seeing as it’s been ages since I’ve been a middle grade reader, I’ve been struggling to actually get back into that mindset and really understand what it might be that such readers are looking for.
That being said…I’m pretty sure it’s not this.
Enough intro…here’s the review:
Aoléon has all of the makings of a low budget children’s television show. There’s the low-end CGI graphics, a simple story line, and easy flowing action that doesn’t really lead anywhere. My kids watch these types of shows happily from time to time and I could definitely see Aoléon as fitting right within that line-up.
That’s not to say that there isn’t any redeemable qualities for this book about a Martian who comes to earth, picks up a kid, and takes him to Mars, but they do seem quite few at this point. There are some great learning opportunities that are quickly brought up, such as details of the Martian surface, and ideas about different dimensions, or heavy descriptions about how crop circles don’t actually break the plant, but bend them so they grow at an angle (honestly something I didn’t know about crop circles). But there really just seems to be so little going on within this story.
I understand this is the first in a series, as in, this is just part one of a full story, and maybe I wouldn’t feel quite so disappointed if the other 4 parts were immediately available so I didn’t feel as though I just watched the first couple minutes of one of these kids shows and got the hook before the opening credits started. But nothing really happens. And the things that kind of happen, specifically, that Gilbert jumps into a spaceship with a Martian girl, has such minimal motivation behind the character actions that I really just couldn’t find myself getting interested.
But then again, I don’t find myself generally diving into those same children’s shows that this book seems modeled after.
If I had to guess, this would probably hold the interest of kids from the ages of 5-7 fairly well, especially if they were working to read themselves. The story is simple, the pictures are bright and engaging, and there’s not much for difficult language to trap them up. My only problem with this is that it’s pretty much flat for anything outside of the basic concept of possibly holding interest. Nothing happens, except for a little reference at the end as to how they are both destined to do great things, and a somehow forgettable race around the world between a spaceship and a secret technology jet.
And that’s probably where my real problem comes in. If the story were fleshed out a little more, even if it weren’t extended past the point where it ends here, I think it could be something really great. The images might not be majestic, but they’re fun. But the story just seems as though it’s missing its heart.
All in all, if you’re looking for a book with bright pictures from an indie author for your developing reader, this is something they might really enjoy, especially as the rest of the series comes out. As far as a developed book, I find it lacking, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t something that could keep kids excited about reading, which is what I’m guessing is its intention.
Head here to pre-order. It comes out January 31st.