The 5th grade book group lobbied hard forÂ Artemis Fowl by Eoin ColferÂ to be the book for their summer meeting, and we finally had our discussion about it on Monday afternoon.Â Uncharacteristically, only four of the eight kids in the group showed up (must be summer), which inhibited the discussion a bit.Â M—, a bright and well-spoken young man, openly expressed his frustration that the conversation wasn’t as lively with fewer people.Â He missed having eight people waving their hands in the air, anxious to be heard.Â He also missed the three boys who didn’t attend on Monday, leaving him as the only boy in the group.Â (Luckily he has healthy self-esteem, and being the only boy didn’t really faze him one bit.)Â But we had a good conversation about this highly popular book, and I feel like I better understand why it and the rest of the books in the series are so popular.Â
While I enjoyed reading the book, it’s not the best or most memorable book that IÂ have read recently.Â When my brother saw the book on my coffee table two weeks ago, he said that he had been disappointed in it, that it hadn’t lived up to his expectations, and I agree with that view.Â Artemis FowlÂ is definitely engaging, and the plot moves along at a good clip, but I couldn’t quite see why this series has reached phenomenon status with kids.
Silly me.Â Within the first few minutes of discussion at the book group, the kids made it abundantly clear to me why they love the series:
1) The protagonist is a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind.Â Or, as M— put it, “He’s 12!Â And he’s a mastermind!”
2) Artemis Fowl has a bodyguard.Â M— announced that he would also like a bodyguard.Â “How cool would that be?”
3) Action.Â The plot nevers stops moving.
4) Technology.Â T— talked at length about being intrigued by all the advanced fairy technology.
5)Â Holly Short, a girl fairy with brains and attitude.Â The girls especially liked Holly’s character.
A— did mention things she really didn’t like about the book, the most major of which is the book’s structure.Â A— hates (and I do mean hates) that the story keeps flip-flopping from Artemis’s storyline to Holly’s storyline, then to the storyline back at the fairy base camp.Â She prefers stories that “flow” in one even unbroken narrative line.Â So we talked a bit about style and structure and how authors assemble their books.Â It will be interesting to see how A—‘s views on literature change as she enters 6th grade in the fall.
All in all, the meeting was a success, despite the low attendance, and I better understand the popularity of these books (rather an essential part of my job).
Next week, the Teen Book Group will be discussing Monsoon Summer.