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I'm so happy to introduce my friend Sonja Howard as our Weekend Picks contributor for the month of November. She is an amazing teacher, new mother and still finds time to read the best YA titles. Can't wait to take a peek at all her amazing suggestions.
(2003, 2005, 2008, 2011)
Reading is an immersive experience, one where I can leave my world to join another and my favorite worlds to be a part of are the ones filled with an epic adventure, mythical creatures, and magic! The four part series The Inheritance Cycle has all the traditional elements of fantasy yet more action than a Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible movie! Okay, maybe not quite that much but it’s definitely more than what a reader bargains for. For someone who likes to strike deals, I got super lucky and had my very own, personal and live audiobook! With a newborn to take care of and married to a die hard fan, my husband was delighted to feed two birds with one hand. As he read to us and I played with the baby, we found a new way to enjoy our time together as a family.
Initially, my husband was the one who introduced me to the series. From his perspective, he loves the idea that readers could “grow up” with Eragon. As the main protagonist goes from farm boy to learning how to become a dragon rider, he has a lot of learning and growing up to do. Eragon faces endless battles and overcomes many challenges, he progressively matures and shapes into a courageous warrior. Paolini does such a fantastic job creating these scenarios that captivate emotions experienced by Eragon yet pertinent to us as well. We all experience our own coming of age story. It’s just unfortunate that we can’t use magic spells and our best friends aren’t legendary creatures that can telepathically send their energy to support us in the most difficult of times…
Personally, I couldn’t help but fall in love with something so magnificent as the one and only female dragon, Saphira. Eragon’s most loyal confidant and companion, Saphira is a whole lot of sass with a dollop of flirt and sprinkle of funny. Her love for Eragon is undeniable as she calls him little one and doesn’t miss a beat with the “I told you so” lecture every time trouble finds him. Most importantly though, she is ferociously dangerous and knows it too - blasting blue flames from her mouth as she spirals through the air with Eragon on her back, she makes it known that this dragon rider couple are not to be reckoned with.
Switching teacher mode, I must say the first book Eragon would be so enjoyable to read with students in grades 8-10! Paolini’s writing is calculated and strategic. From multiple characters developing in a timely fashion to the vocabulary and descriptions of the land, Alagaesia, I can think of at least one project based learning assignment and three creative writing tasks to encourage students to put thoughts from mind to paper. Although students might not be as enticed as I am about doing work for this novel study, but beyond doubt I know students would be encouraged to continue reading the series on their own. As an English teacher that’s all I could hope for, right?
BIO-Sonja Howard is a passionate educator specializing in English Language Arts for 9th and 10th graders. She is obtaining a doctoral degree in literacy education with a focus on novel study and English curriculum from UNLV. With her expertise, Sonja aims to instill a love for literature in her students, making a positive impact on their educational journey.