Grades 5 - 8 / Ages 10 - 13.
What do Jake, Rachel, Cassie, Tobias and Marco have in common? They are, as Marco describes them, "Idiot teenagers with a death wish."
More importantly, they are five teenagers who have seen flying saucers and met an alien, an Andalite who has the power to change his body into any animal which he has previously touched. This Andalite passed on his power to the young people before he died at the hands his enemy, Visser Three. Now the five find they have the mission of saving the Earth from an invasion by the slug-like aliens called Yeerks.
Applegate introduces us to a new group of "heroes" in the sense that they have powers to use and a mission to perform. But they are also shown as human, and teenagers, with strengths and weaknesses of their own. For example, Jake realizes that he is the leader of the group and Marco is unwilling to become involved because of his worries about his widowed father. Cassie is the one who catches on to the morphing the quickest. She has figured out how to retain a bodysuit when she changes while everyone else has their clothes falling off which means they are naked when they return to human form. Applegate's descriptions of the morphing process are well written and one can feel the power and complexity of the animal the person chooses to become. Where else can you feel a spider wriggling in your stomach while you are a lizard?
This is the first of a series of books called "Animorphs." Others available now are #2 The Visitor, #3 The Encounter, and #4 The Message. It should become a popular series-- my 13-year-old son stayed up until 4 a.m. reading the first three books! Check them out to find out if Jake rescues his brother Tom from the influence of the Controllers. And, does Tobias have to stay an eagle forever?
Brian Rountree is the teacher-librarian at Eastwood Elementary School in Thompson, Manitoba. He is currently the Sec-Treas. of the Canadian School Library Association.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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