Jewish Sci-Fi Update

Yaakov the Pirate Hunter
Yaakov the Pirate Hunter is the new-ish novel for tweens by L.A. local Nathaniel Wyckoff. Yaakov Peretz has just started summer vacation, and an accident with one of his family’s robots results in his discovery of a treasure map. Wacky adventures result from the Peretz’s choice to seek out the treasure so it can be returned. It’s all reminiscent of a Geronimo Stilton book, but with no mice and only black and white print.
I remember reading a while ago that the way George Lucas and Steven Spielberg invented Indiana Jones was by fantasizing about all the coolest scenes they wished had been in matinee serials and adventure novels pre-1960, and then binding these scenes together with a plot. You know: Trapped in a pit with snakes–check! Fight with strongman who gets too close to a propeller–check! Pretty but tough girl gets trapped in a basket, but which one?–check!
That’s what Yaakov the Pirate Hunter is like. What would tween boys most like to read about? Robots–check! Pirates–check! Bumbling cops–check! Kids save the day–check! It makes perfect sense for this to be the novel’s general impression, too. Wyckoff originally invented the story to entertain the kids in carpool (How’s that for a successful carpool strategy?). With all those elements, how could it go wrong?
The recipe works like magic. Yaakov the Pirate Hunter is pure fun. My 9 year old son LOVED it. Like begged to find out if there’s a sequel in the works kind of loved it. (Answer: not in the immediate future. Alas.) He also loved that the book is set in Los Angeles, not the NY metro area or Israel, like most Jewish books.
I’d recommend this book for 7-11 year old kids, especially boys. It could work as independent reading or a bedtime read-aloud. Here’s a link to Amazon if you want to purchase it: http://www.amazon.com/Yaakov-Pirate-Hunter-Nathaniel-Wyckoff/dp/1456452495/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1313374964&sr=1-1

There was also an outstanding sci-fi story FOR ADULTS (shocker!) in Binah Magazine’s Aug. 8th issue (thanks to Miriam Hendeles for the heads-up). It was authored by the wonderful Yael Mermelstein, and it’s so good, it should be anthologized or something. It would be a pity if its only appearance was in a single magazine issue.

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