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on Aug. 20, 2012 :
Life has been tough for Ian and Callie since their father went missing five years ago. Ian is so hurt by his father’s disappearance that he refuses to touch the last gift he gave him – a very unusual telescope.
Younger sister Callie thinks Ian’s refusal to look into the telescope is ridiculous. So she sneaks a peek into it – and is surprised when the instrument transforms into a sort of space ship.
The kids are even more shocked when the machine whisks them to Jupiter.
Ian and Callie are quickly apprehended by the Martian Emperor Phobos and his Doomslayer forces, who had taken over the planet in their father’s absence. It turns out that their father is part of the ruling family on Jupiter – and he was kidnapped from earth and held prisoner.
It’s up to Ian and Callie to rescue their father and set the Jovians (the inhabitants of Jupiter) free from the evil Emperor Phobos’ rule.
Is this a good book for your child to read? Let's take a closer look...
The Good Stuff:
Family values stand front and center in “The Jupiter Chronicles.” The hurt and hardships of dealing with the absence of a husband and father are not sugar-coated. It’s obvious that both Ian and his mom, Camilla, are struggling to cope.
As for Ian and Callie, they are typical siblings. They pick on each other and fuss at each other, but they have each other’s backs. And Ian takes care to watch out for his young sister on their adventures.
Plus, Ian, Callie, their father Peter, and their new-found robot friend, Stinky Frank all exhibit the good character qualities of bravery, determination and loyalty.
As a fantasy-adventure story, “The Jupiter Chronicles” does contain some action violence, but it’s appropriate for the intended reading audience. For example:
- Ian and Callie are taken prisoner on Jupiter by a squad of enormous Doomslayer robots and thrown in prison.
- When the kids are forced to basically fight for their lives in the Drifterdash games, Ian rigs a couple of weapons that they use to literally annihilate their Doomslayer opponents.
- On two separate occasions, Ian shoots Doomslayers out of the sky when they attack their space ship. Ian also puts on his Fireflight – a contraption that allows him to fly – and blasts away at Doomslayers outside of the ship.
Magic, Sorcery and Spirituality:
Although “The Jupitor Chronicles” is a fantasy story, there is no magic or sorcery to be found. As for spirituality, Ian and Callie’s mom, Camilla, prays every night for the safe return of her children.
Drugs and Alcohol:
My Two Cents:
“The Jupiter Chronicles Book One: The Secret of the Great Red Spot” is exactly what the author intended it to be…
…A simple flight of fancy that any parent would feel comfortable allowing their child to read.
Its strong family message and emphasis on good values is refreshing. And its Star Wars-like adventure would be an enjoyable read for kids.
As a critical adult, I only had a couple of small problems with the book. One is that it’s difficult to determine when the story is taking place. The main clue is that they use candles for light. The promotional materials say the story takes place in 1892, but that is not made clear in the book.
Also, it’s unclear as to how Ian is able to create weapons on a technically-advanced planet. Yes, he likes to take apart his toys and rebuild them. But that’s a far cry from rigging space guns. And speaking of guns, how did these kids manage to be such crack shots? If they lived in 1892, they certainly didn’t learn their technique on video games.
But aside from these minor issues, I highly recommend this chapter book for six to eight-year-old readers.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)