We still read aloud to all of our sons, even the sometimes-grumpy sixth grader will sit next to us for extended periods of time to listen to a book. He reads a lot on his own, too, but this tradition of read-aloud has been part of our family since he was little. It gets trickier to find the time and the right book, however, but we keep going.
Two weeks ago, we started to read Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, bestselling author of Uglies. The book is a retelling of history prior to World War I, with some significant changes in the world. For one, Europe is home to two main powers who have begun to harness technology for advancement. The Darwinists tinker with animals to create super-creatures, such as living sky creatures, while the Clankers create powerful machines to rule the world.
We’re not yet far into the story, but you can see things set in motion already — with the main character, Prince Aleksander, on the run after his father — Archduke Ferdinand — has been killed.
The world created by Westerfield is pretty amazing and the pace of the story is brisk. It’s a perfect read-aloud for a 12 year old and I like that the other main character in the story is a girl (pretending to be a boy so she can fly the skies).
I tried to explain to my son that this is a variation of steampunk fiction (he looked at me strange when I said that) in which writers envision a world where technology took root earlier than it did, and the world became a vastly different place as a result.
Peace (on the pages),