I like the fresh new paper of Rex Zero. I know it’s irrelevent but it is one of the pleasures of reading a new book, if there was a date stamp I’d bet I am the first to crack this book.
This book can be classified as historical fiction but feels more deliberately fun versus history. The layer of information for learning adds dimension to the story. I like the careful writing – descriptive, a little sarcastic. Once in a while the author gets a little heavy on the figures of speech but it wasn’t distracting in more than one or two places. I enjoyed the picture which formed in my mind of this boy and his family.
One of the parts I particularly enjoyed was of the boy using a paint-by-number kit. He reverses the colours to see how it will turn out. I had the Franz Marc “Blue Horse” come to mind. Perhaps because of the reference earlier in the work of a famous painting “Jesus or somebody all riddled with arrows”. It was fun to search the recesses of my brain for “St. Sebastian”. The author seems to have written for young people but without dumbing it down. I like the levels that it works on and the fact that as an older reader, there are little parts that a student might miss but that I can enjoy. It’s like Shrek or Veggie Tales, humour for adults and children.
This story blends mystery (Is there a panther loose in the park?) and history (cold war era) with a classic ‘new boy in town’ frame. It is an entertaining read and has some delightfully humorous moments. Thematic possibilities include Cold War, family, moving, Ottawa, summer time, change, ampathy, friendship, respect, old age, illness, compassion. Male main character, strong female characters as well, short chapters but not a short read. Most likely suit readers grade 5-8. Great read aloud potential.