Friday, August 3, 2012

Sci Fi Summer - For the younger set


On the lighter (and younger) side of Sci Fi - 

I've been looking for some science fiction books that could be appropriate for elementary kids. Most of the books I've grabbed this summer have mature enough content (including violence and romance) that I wouldn't feel comfortable handing them to anyone under middle school age. Yes, there have been a few notable exceptions (please do yourself a favor and read the marvelous Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner. A wonderful "near future" climate science fiction for middle grades and up).

This week my son selected a book called Cyberia from the library shelves and I decided to give it a try.

Cyberia - by Chris Lynch

Goodreads summary: The premise: It’s the future. Zane lives in a completely wired world, with completely wired parents. Technology has progressed so that every pet has a microchip in it that allows the pet to talk. Zane's happy about that. Until one day a strictly contraband wild animal -- a mole -- comes into his life. He smuggles it into his apartment -- and learns that the pets aren't actually saying what the chip is translating. In fact, they aren't happy that all animals have been domesticated. So they enlist Zane to help them fight back and ensure their freedom.


What I thought: While it wasn't  one of my favorite reads of the summer, I think it meets the needs of younger students. The story was written with a light, humorous touch. At only 160 pages, it is also a fairly quick read. Both of those things might make it a nice early science fiction read for kids. The focus on helping animals would also appeal to the age group, especially since I know many of my elementary students are passionate about animal rights. It is the first book in a series, so the story isn't done when you finish this book. 


Age Range
Definitely mid elementary. Fifth graders may start to see it as having a bit too much "fluff", especially if they are already into the more challenging books or have begun to be interested in books that focus on relationships and teens. Sensitive readers may be upset by the animal cruelty, but it's never overly graphic (and this age range seems to have many books that touch on this topic). 


Science Concepts
It's fairly light,  but it does delve into using technology to control behavior, as well as the overwhelming nature of communication technology (Zane feels overly wired in his life). 


Wonders and What Ifs
Who has the right to control others? (explored through humanity's control over animals)
What is freedom? 

Narrator / Main Character: This is a simple story that really only focuses on Zane and his dog Hugo. 





This week I was lucky also enough to read two ARCs that went out on "tour" from a few librarian friends. They snagged copies at conferences, and shared the love.

My short review on Goodreads


Both books are "Post-Apocalyptic". That genre often includes a healthy dose of futuristic science, but I don't know that I'd consider either of these books to truly fit my definition of science fiction. I did enjoy them both immensely, though, and I'll post full reviews for each closer to when they are released. For now, I would definitely recommend both, but the Ann Aguirre series was my favorite. I couldn't put it down.




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