This is a fantasy series of eight books which chronicles the adventures of Leif while on his search to restore the Belt of Deltora. The Belt was worn by the kings of Deltora and helped to bind the kingdom together. The Belt is magical in that when all of the jewels are in the belt, evil cannot overtake the land. Unfortunately, over time the kings grew weak and finally succumbed to deception, causing the Belt to be dismantled and the jewels scattered. Leif undertakes his quest to restore the jewels and give the belt to Deltora’s rightful heir.
For those who read a lot of fantasy, the plot is pretty familiar. No great surprises to me, but then again I have read all of the Greats. Thing 2 read the entire series before I did and was quite impressed that I guessed all but one plot line after the second book. So this isn’t kid’s lit in the vein of Harry Potter. This is starter stuff. If you are eight to ten, and not quite ready to read Tolkien or Lewis for yourself, this is a great start. The books are pretty short, about 120 pages, so the attention required isn’t too great. There is a lot of great vocabulary in there for the kids to ask you about or look up themselves. Another interesting thing I noticed is that there weren’t a lot of made up terms or names that would be hard for the kids to wrap their heads around. This makes it easier for them to stay involved in the story and not get too frustrated with unfamiliar stuff. Thing 1 tried to read The Hobbit at age nine and couldn’t get past some of that. The female member of the quest, Jasmine, is also great. She is strong, capable, and independent. She saves Leif far more often than he saves her.
As with all kid lit, there are lessons to be learned. Deltora Quest gives us the familiar ones like friendship, trust, loyalty, and perseverance. But one that sneaks in there is civic duty. It’s pretty subtle, but definitely there. Evil takes over the land when the kings and queens are willing to let others take over some of their powers. And the people increasingly accepted the fact that their rulers were just some distant folk not involved in the day to day ruling. This allowed others with evil agendas to take more and more control until finally they were able to overthrow the king and dismantle the belt. As Leif goes on his quest, he re-creates the alliances that forged the Belt in the first place, and all who come to his aid vow to remain active in their kingdom. An eight year old isn’t going to see the parallels here. But now I have a starting point in talking about the importance of voting and political activism. Something tells me that his generation is really going to have to be on their toes if things continue the way they are, and if his childhood stories can reinforce this message, all the better.
So, if you have a 2nd to 4th grader on your Christmas list, and are in need books, these are worthy of consideration.
Next kid’s review….Alex Rider. Think James Bond for tweens.