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Blackthorn Winter

Blackthorn Winter, Douglas Wilson
(Veritas Press, 2003), pb., 141 pp.
Older children, 12+

I was quite interested to see what Wilson would do in his children’s books. This is his first children’s novel. The story line is great, compelling plot, good adventure, nice twists and turns. The overall story line reminded me a lot of R. M Ballantyne– a boys’ writer I really like.

However, the manner of writing was difficult particularly because it was hard to understand and many points. One reason was the overuse of proverbial lines which if they are not common to the reader make reading difficult. I feel like I am aware of many common proverbial statements, but these by nature tend to be regional. This makes the book less accessible. Then the frequent use of nautical jargon (without any glossary) was a bit of a hindrance. We are in the midst of reading a number of books the deal with sailing and still I was stumped at places. Wilson makes many good moral points along the way in the story but they were often so subtle that they would be missed unless I stopped to explain. In general this book required more work on my end to help my boys follow the transitions at places, often to understand the wording and fairly often to catch the implied lesson.

With the explanatory work I did my boys liked the book. The book cover says it is for ages 9-12. I would suggest 12+.

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