Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Battle Boy Series 'Brilliant Books for Boys!

At last, I have found books for emerging readers that do not feature ponies, fairies or princesses! It seems that most of the books designed for younger readers are written with girls in mind and boys who often face more challenges with literacy have been neglected. I do not understand why authors have to use ridiculous or rude titles to entice boys to read and this is reflected in the range of books lining the junior fiction section of shelves at the bookstore - there are not too many titles that appeal to me or to my son and the only 'reading' books he tends to check out at the local library are Tin Tin, (so politically incorrect, I know!) Asterix and Star Wars.

And then, we discovered Battle Boy! Brilliant books for a 'battle boy' like mine who loves to play with plastic soldiers, build lego castles and make his own bow and arrows from elastic cord, twigs and poly pipe! The author of the Battle Boy Series is Charlie Carter and I suspect he has a passion for military history, as each book takes 11 year old Napoleon Augustus Smythe back in time, landing him in the thick of the action of famous battles and military exploits. He is recruited by Miss Perdu at the local library who offers him intriguing missions - to spy on the past, as a Human Data Collecting Device (a HD-CD) with the opportunity to meet heroes of history and solve mysteries such as ' Who shot down the Red Baron?' There is not a Snoopy in sight! Napoleon is issued with special futuristic equipment such as his 'Simulskin' and a 'Battle Watch' which allow him to travel back in time, protecting him and enabling him to complete his operation.

Battle Boy is a combination of science fiction, an action packed adventure and a history lesson - the details are not missing, Charlie Carter weaves in the people, the places, the dates. 'Red Devil Down' features illustrations of planes and labeled diagrams of weapons. There are also illustrations of the special survival gear issued to Napoleon, breaking up the text. This feature of the books held my son's interest, ensuring that these books were not tossed aside after a few pages.

The books are short, just eight to twelve chapters and certainly aimed at younger and emerging readers - they also make a great read aloud book, the adventure begins on the very first page and words which need special emphasis are presented in bold bringing the sounds of the battlefield to life! They will certainly appeal to boys but my twelve year old daughter joined us when I read 'Red Devil Down' and enjoyed the story - I also wanted her to benefit from the history lesson and educate myself too. The further along our homeschool journey we travel, the more I am convinced that history is a subject that must not be neglected, in fact I believe it needs to be given more attention. I am very grateful to authors such as Charlie Carter who are reinventing the history lesson in exciting and relevant ways for a new generation who need good books to entice them away from the computer screen.

This Battle Boy is hoping for more books in the series to be published soon - I gather they are in the pipeline from the hints in the first book 'Open Fire' (about Sir Francis Drake) as Napoleon is asked if he would like to meet Gengis Khan or Julius Caesar and informed that the list is very long. I'm hoping that Napoleon's namesake is also featured in a future book as we will be delving into the English/French wars to find out more about the man who this plaque from a country church is dedicated to. Click on the image to read.

I have recently discovered this man is on my family tree, thanks to my teenage daughter's desire to trace her family history. We have found famous writers, military heroes, early settlers and colonists of New England - famous families and connections to countries I never knew about.
I will share more about how we are studying history at home and learning so much about the past by delving into our own family heritage. If you homeschool and have not thought of studying history by researching your own family tree - give it a go, encourage your children to start a project. You may be amazed at just what they find out and how much they learn about the past in the process.

It is time to think beyond the text book for history lessons and I will share with you in my next post a wonderful resource I am using this term to teach my children about life in the Australian bush in the 1860's.

With Love and Joy,


max said...

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys http://booksandboys.blogspot.com is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And my new book, Lost Island Smugglers - first in the Sam Butler Adventure Series - coming out in June.

Keep up your good work.

Max Elliot Anderson

Erin said...


Thank you!! Just reserved them at our library (weel the first two, the others are in process)

Thanks also to Max, off to check out his blog!

count it all joy said...

Thanks for this post Ann. While my eldest son is probably just past this stage, it's great to keep in the back of my mind for gifts for friends with boys. I couldn't agree with you more regarding the dearth of inspiring books for boys. On that note, I'm off to check out Max's blog. Hope you and your lovely ones are well and happy. Meredy xo.
p.s. give that baby of yours a hug from me!

Niki said...

Great post. Hearin ya loud & clear.
Thanks for your wonderful email.
I have been snowed under, so sorry I haven't responded.
I have been thinking of you & your little man.
Love Niki x

Helen said...

thanks for a great post... I written these books down and plan to get them for my 8 year old son. I also enjoyed reading Max's blogs too and his interview.. so helpful. I didnt think teaching my children to read would be so difficult as I am a huge reader. my eldest daughter picked up reading like a duck to water - just like me but my son really struggles but we continue to plod along slowly everyday.

Fruitful Harvest said...

Great post~
As a momma of 4 boys(and 2 girls) I can relate to trying to find books a young boy will ENJOY reading!

Warm Blessing to you ANN!


Renata said...

I think your son & Zai would get along so well!
Those books sound fantastic & as Zai is so incredibly interested in history & wars, he would love it!! (thanks for the tip). We also had trouble with books - our library hasn't got a big section in it for emerging readers - he does read tintin though - he's also read the roald dahl books we have here.
Will keep a look out & may even whisper in the librarians ear.
Thanks again
Take care
Renata :)

Sandra said...

I'm going to see if our library has these too. I've never heard of them before.

Kimmie said...

Thanks for sharing these with us...I have two wee boys who are thinking they want to read chapter books. Something more *boyish* would be wonderful...as I have only raised girl readers so far...then God gave me two boys through adoption (with their sister)...guess I needed a reminder that having my eyes open to some *boy* books that will aid to light the fire in reading. Bless you Ann.

mama to 7
one homemade and 6 adopted
*expecting again...from Ethiopia
(she's about 11)

The Prudent Homemaker said...

I was looking at Amazon.com (in the U.S. and the UL) and I can't find the Charlie Carter books. Do you have a source? An ISBN #? I will look at all of my homeschool sources to see if I've overlooked somewhere who might carry them.

brandy at the prudent homemaker dot com


Anonymous said...

Try Zac Powers books too. Full of action and cool gadgets!



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