I just finished reading books 3 and 4 in the Imagination Station series (Adventures in Odyssey). Following the pattern of both Voyage with the Vikings (#1) and Attack in the Arena (#2), these two books were well-written, value-driven, and great for preteens.
In Peril in the Palace (book #3), the cousins Patrick and Beth are transported via the Imagination Station to China during Kublai Khan’s reign. During their time there, they meet some famous travelers and engage in their share of danger, just like in the previous two books. The authors fill the book with just enough suspense to keep the pages turning without being scary for young readers. Beth and Patrick both show bravery in doing what’s right and standing up for what they believe in. I thought it was interesting to introduce Mongol shamans and to expose their magic tricks for what they really were. However, I wonder if the book is making the matter of witchcraft and spells a little too harmless-looking. In a time where the Wicca religion is rapidly growing, perhaps preteens need a stern warning about steering clear of this evil practice.
The length of the books is perfect for readers in the 6-10 range — providing lots of details and a rapid-pace plot. I think both guys and girls would enjoy this series. I was a little disappointed that book #3 ended in a “To Be Continued…” — seemed a little gimmicky to me, especially when book #4 didn’t seem to really live up to the hype Peril in the Palace seemed to promise.
In Revenge of the Red Knight (#4), the cousins find themselves in a cave after jumping in the Imagination Station, hoping to head back to Whit’s End. Many of the mysteries from the first three books begin to work themselves loose as new details come to light in this book. New mysteries emerge though with the discovery of a secret room and with the meeting of new characters. Speaking of new characters, this book seemed to have a few too many characters to keep track of. Between the knights, knaves, lords, ladies, and squires — it was hard to remember who was on what side (of course, this could be due to the fact that I’ve only been getting three hours of sleep with the additional of our new little one!).
This book was filled with it’s share of danger and suspense as well, though I don’t think it was as well written as the previous three books. It didn’t seem to be as much as a page-turner as I was used to experiencing with the other books in this series. Nonetheless, it certainly was worth the read and I would recommend it to any preteen or parent of preteen. For under $5, it’s certainly worth buying for your kids! Pick up your copy of Revenge of the Red Knight or Peril in the Palace today!
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Disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers has provided you with a complimentary copy of these books. The opinions expressed are my own.