HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The League and the Lantern
Author: Brian Wells
Jacket Illustrator: Joe Slucher
Publisher: Republic Ink, 2016
Related website: http://www.LeagueAndLantern.com (book)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 9-14
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Wells, Brian. The League and the Lantern (published in 2015 by Republic Ink, 2639 Erie Ave., #8122, Cincinnati, OH 45208). Twelve year old Jake Herndon lives with his adopted uncle Gabriel (Gabe) Herndon in an apartment in a formerly fancy but now somewhat run-down hotel in downtown Chicago, IL. After a disastrous year in sixth grade, Jake is looking forward to his Big Do-Over in seventh grade at his new school, University Prep Middle School, starting with the orientation Summer’s Over Sleepover at the Museum of Science and Industry. Most of the kids have been in the program previously, but there are two other new students, a tall African-American boy named TJ McDonald, and Lucy Garcia who has just moved back to the States from Nepal. Suddenly, a mysterious group of soldiers invades the museum. There is an explosion, and the lights go out. Jake, Lucy, and TJ flee but are chased by some of the soldiers.
The three youngsters fight for survival on the streets of Chicago while Jake tries to find his Uncle Gabe who seems to have disappeared. They locate some evidence which implies that he’s gone to Springfield, IL, so they follow him there only to find more of the soldiers still after them. Will they manage to escape? Who are these dangerous soldiers? Where’s Uncle Gabe? And what will happen to Gabe and his friends? I saw this book advertised on a homeschooling website. It is a National Treasure like tale having a lot of fast-paced action and a plot with all kinds of unexpected twists and turns. Author Brian Wells is a family television executive producer and father. This is his debut novel. The only negative that I might see is that the humor places heavy emphasis on current pop-culture references which may make the book appealing to today’s kids but could cause it to seem dated in the future.
Otherwise, while this is not a faith-based book, it is definitely a family friendly adventure that is about courage, family, and friendship without objectionable language or inappropriate material in contrast to many young adult writers who explore dark, mature, and even immoral themes in order to appeal to today’s young readers. In addition, the story traces back to real historical figures, which gives it some educational benefit. It is especially great for boys, including reluctant readers, but girls can appreciate it too, and even adults should like it. In fact, it captures a person’s interest so well that it may be hard for anyone to put down–a book for the whole family to enjoy. An extra bonus is that the book weaves in 140 of the top vocabulary words for middle school success. A free downloadable study guide is available on the book’s website.