Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Children's Corner: Book Review: Eutopia: The Discovery by Kathy Motlagh

Eutopia: The Discovery
Words by Kathy Motlagh
Illustrated by Rich Griewe
Published by Think Virtues
Published in 2012
121 Pages
Ages ???

Eutopia,(which means the perfect place as oppose to Utopia which means a perfection beyond attainment) is a fantasy fiction story of two boys who stumble across another world named Eutopia. As they arrive in this land, they come to realize that it has been destroyed by vice and greed. The boys must practice their virtues in order to awaken the guardians of Eutopia and restore this once perfect place. Through reading this series, children will feel empowered and see that they can make a positive difference in the world through practicing virtues.

A line or two: 
"A dose of forgiveness would be appropriate right about now," said Arisu, the guardian of honesty. Kameron, Kyle and Lily gave each other hugs and kisses and forgave each other for all that they have been dishonest about.

My Thoughts:

Eutopia: The Discovery is a cross between a picture book and a longer, children's chapter book, only it contains no chapters and there isn't a picture at the turn of every page. So even though it has lots of pictures in it, it's really meant for older kids. I couldn't find the recommended age, but based on the writing and subject matter, I'd say probably 8-12.

This is a very sweet story meant to teach children about virtues. Kameron, Kyle, and their cousin Lily get transported to another world - Eutopia - and find it desolate. All the creatures and plants have gone missing and the world is barren except for a guardian and two sprite-like creatures who tell them that they were sent to Eutopia for a special mission. In order to restore Eutopia they must go on an adventure, practicing their virtues, and then they'll be able to find their way home again.

This was a very creative way to teach children about virtues. As the children practice them, new creatures appear, restore part of the landscape, and then help them figure out which virtue they should practice next. I thought that worked quite well and the order of the virtues actually meant something. For example, the children practice honesty and afterwards they go on to practive forgiveness for the way they feel about each other and the things that had to be said. All in all the children practice hope, enthusiasm, cleanliness, honesty, forgiveness, love, grace, courtesy, helpfulness, empathy, and humility. We also learn that there over 300 virtues so this is just the beginning of their adventure.

I also felt it was clever how at the start of the book the pictures were all monotone and throughout the course of the story more and more colours were added. It was a nice effect that showed visually how barren the land was at the beginning and how beautiful it was slowly becoming.

All in all, a wonderful book, although at times I felt the approach was maybe too literal. I also felt like the ending was a bit too open-ended for a children's book. It's not every day a child has access to an entire series so I would have liked to have seen a little more closure for the kids who might pick up this book. If not for those two things I probably would have given it a 4/5 but as is I felt more comfortable with the rating of 3/5.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

You can purchase Eutopia: The Discovery in hardcover and ebook formats from the Think Virtues website.

You can also see Eutopia: The Discovery on Goodreads to read more reviews or add it to your list.

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