This month’s Spotlight Week features THE JOURNALS OF PETRA VOLARE SCROLL 1: FROM THE SHADOWS by Authors Pamela Jaye Smith & Reece Michaleson.
117 pages, Kindle
Genre: MG Ages 9 and up
Published on January 31, 2013 by Reece Michaelson
Hardcover copies available via petravolare.com
A new Inventor Girl heroine is born!
From the Sisters of Perpetual Evolution:
Most people know about Icarus because he flew too close to the sun with the wings his father, Labyrinth inventor Daedalus, created for an escape from the Greek island Crete, in the days when it was inhabited by the Minoans. There was quite a story behind that tragedy, full of twists and turns.
We think there is much to the myth that is relevant to the 21st Century, with its chaotic family dynamics, questionable behavior, and misguided inventiveness.
But we are of the opinion that there is an even more interesting view of the events which has never before come to light and which now demands telling, and we believe that Petra Volare, whose journal we have fortuitously stumbled upon, is the perfect person to do that telling…
But just who is Petra Volare, and what IS in that journal?
On ancient Minoan Crete, 11 year old Calice, whose existence has been kept secret from her famous inventor father, decides she has learned all she can by watching her father and artist brother from the shadows of the Grand Palace where she lives.
A budding inventor herself, she renames herself Petra Volare, and ventures forth, recording her observations and invention sketches, her vivid past-life dreams, and her thoughts about the mysterious Cave of the First Ones, where she discovers her true destiny.
Through her journal we follow Petra Volare as she meets people who have clearly been waiting to help her— Phoenicia the herbalist, who is much more than just an old wise woman and who teaches her about the power of dreams and dream tea; Arkalochori, much more than a master sword-maker; Ariadne, not only the ruler’s daughter, but an ally who leads Petra to a life-changing discovery ; and Petros, a sailor who teaches her the Star Stories that will guide her to her greater destiny.
Petra’s thoughts and sketches reveal that, in the true story behind ancient Greek myths of the Labyrinth, no one is who they seem, and in the race to save the lives of her beloved brother and her best friend, an inventor’s best tool is her intuition.
In her own words:
Someone has given me papyrus and the tools to write, so I will record my thoughts, even though common wisdom is that nothing a Palace worker girl who has only seen eleven seasons of the Bull might think about is worth knowing.
Common wisdom could not know that I am born of Naucrate, worker of the palace of Minos, but also of Daedalus, Minos’s personal inventor, and so my stories of straddling two worlds might be worth knowing. Clearly someone has decided it to be so…Mother will not be pleased…
I’ve always loved Pamela Jaye Smith’s books on writing so when she informed me that she had co-authored a fiction book with Reece Michaelson, I was more than happy to ask for a review copy so I could read their book. I was especially intrigued to find out how these authors would make old greek myths interesting to young children, and how they would retell the story of the Greek inventor Daedalus and his son Icarus, who flew too close to the sun.
I was also curious as to what role a young girl named Petra Volare would play in their story. As I read the story, I discovered that Petra Volare was itself an invention—a name created by a young girl named Calice. Calice is a budding inventor who has decided to rename herself for reasons that become clear as the story progresses. Her relationship with Daedalus and Icarus was a big surprise and I was easily fascinated by the way Calice aka Petra Volare viewed the world and went about her business.
Calice is an intriguing main character. Like most Middle Grade heroines, Calice is brave and willingly takes a risk for the people she cares about. Mature for her age and intelligent beyond her years, she perceives things from the most interesting angles. Although geared toward the middle grade audience, younger children might find it a bit challenging to follow the story as it is told solely from Calice’s first person point of view. She’s an intelligent girl, so her words often sound very adult and since she’s telling the story from her own point of view, she’ll often add her own thoughts and feelings about the situation—which might complicate the reading for younger kids.
If this book were read by parent and child, however, I think both would find the family story and Petra’s adventures exciting. Both adults and kids alike will learn so much about the fascinating world of Greek mythology in the process. They will also enjoy the mystical fantasy elements the authors have sprinkled throughout the novel.
Petra Volare is more than a retelling of the Greek mythology of Daedalus and Icarus. It is the story about what makes a family, and of a young girl with an inventive, and creative mind who will go to great lengths to discover who she is, and who her family truly is.
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