Sunday, January 29, 2012

Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist series books 1-4 by R.L. LaFevers

Nathaniel Fludd doesn’t really question much that is going on around him. His governess tells him they are going overnight to the zoo but stops off at the lawyers office ( we don’t know why) and finds out his parents who have been missing for three years have been declared dead. She collects a large sum of money, grabs her suitcase packed for their zoo trip and deserts Nathaniel in the office. No one is sad for Nathaniel nor give him genuine sympathy. The lawyer wisks Nathaniel off to the train station and send him to his aunt. Nothing is explained and Nathaniel is basically treated as an annoyance. He doesn’t ask questions, which is probably good, because no one gives him a straight answer as it is. His aunt is a Beastologist, who protects animals mythical and endangered, from becoming extinct or as in the case of her pet dodo bird, Cornelius, she has saved an extinct animal but no one knows about it. She, too, explains little and thrusts Nathaniel into his role as Beastologist-in-training. She is sympathetic about his dead parents but too busy saving the world’s endangered mythological keepers to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with Nathaniel. The two don’t really talk until book 4. Like I said… they are busy saving the world’s animals.

Nathaniel gains confidence through the books but seems to be in a daze at the beginning. He starts to assert himself and doesn’t yell at his aunt until book 4. I thought he’d express outrage long before that. He does fight with the dodo bird and expresses more of his frustration with it than his aunt. Nathaniel has a wonderful sidekick called, Greasle, who is a Gremlin. She loves oil and steals the scene in every book. She’s rip-roaring fun! In book 2 she sneaks out of Nathaniel’s backpack on a riverboat and sits under the engine that is leaking oil so she can catch the drips in her tiny Gremlin mouth. When they take Aunt Phil’s motorbike in book 4, Greasle is so excited she licks the exhaust pipe. She is Nathaniel’s best friend and the source of prejudice from everyone that meets her because Gremlin’s are considered pests and should be killed; however, she is a major reason for the success of their missions. Nathaniel can relate to her because she is isolated by society like he has been. I think the heart of the story lies in their relationship. Greasle is loyal to him because he feeds her at first. Later they become attached to each other. Greasle is the character that shows the most sense out of all of them.

Young readers will find the illustrations helpful in visualizing the mythological creatures and following the plot. There is some history explained about the different places the two visit throughout the world and the glossaries in the back of the books help explain who the people and places are in each story. The plot is very predictable in spots and readers will be wondering about obvious answers such as why Nathaniel can’t remember the letters in the suitcase, or why his aunt keeps taking her eye off Obediah in ugly situations, or why the two didn’t take back the fake book, or why they didn’t check to see if Obediah was truly dead. I don’t think it will frustrate the readers because there are also some nice twists. It was funny when the unicorn found the fair maiden, Greasle, attractive and calming. Or when Greasle pretends to be a jinni and scares the Bedouin girl. The books don’t have an ending. They don’t answer all the questions and some parts (such as Obediah being the villian) get drawn out. By book 4 there are more answers but the reader still doesn’t know about Miss Lumpton or if Obediah is dead or if his parents are dead. This book is similar to the Spiderwick Chronicles but I think the plot is better is Tony DiTerlizzi’s series. Still it is a fun fantasy read and students will enjoy it.

Book 1, reading level 3.9;
Book 2, reading level 5.0;
Book 3, reading level 5.2;
Book 4, reading level 5.3

:-):-):-) 3 out of 5 Smileys

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