Cover Image: No Ordinary Boy (Book 1, The Legends of King Arthur: Merlin, Magic, and Dragons)

No Ordinary Boy (Book 1, The Legends of King Arthur: Merlin, Magic, and Dragons)

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Member Reviews

No Ordinary Boy follows the spellcaster Merlin when he’s only a small boy. Merlin has strange powers, which the townsfolk like to take advantage of, but he understands he doesn’t truly fit in, either. Of course, people with magic aren’t apt to just be ignored, so one day, Merlin is taken from his home and begins his epic journey to become the legendary wizard everyone knows by name.

The suggested age for the book is seven to nine years. The length of it and the simplicity of the text leans on the younger end of that range. It feels more like a first grader’s chapter book rather than third grade material in that regard. There are, however, suggestions of violence that make the content skew older.

The story itself is easy to follow, and the writing has a certain amount of charm to it. The events move quickly from one to another without dragging, though I sometimes wished they wouldn’t go quite so fast. My biggest critique is that the book feels like it forgets the cardinal rule of kid lit: the child has to drive the plot forward, not the adults. For more than half the book, all Merlin’s actions are directed by the adults around him. He is kidnapped from his home, marched across the countryside by a group of knights and a mysterious hooded man, and when he tries to escape or get more information, he is usually met with a wall (metaphorical or otherwise). I understood this was the first of a series. Even so, chapter books generally have self-contained stories. They may reference the character’s past experiences on occasion, but otherwise they introduce a fresh problem, and the solution is driven by the child’s ideas, with adults serving to help execute the idea as needed. Six-and-seven-year-olds don’t like to hear that they need to buy the next book before they get to the good stuff.

Before I get too critical, however, I will note that the whole idea of these books is to introduce Arthurian legend to younger readers, so the stories may not always fit perfectly in the usual chapter book package. The writing works well with what it has. Plus, the illustrations are sweet and bring out the emotion of the characters, showcasing both Merlin’s worry and his calm in the face of drastic change.

If you’ve got a young reader in your life who’s got a budding interest in this topic, give it a try.
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A lively tale of adventure and magic set in the days leading up to the birth of King Arthur, this story of Merlin follows myths about his origin and early years.  Though in the medieval writings about Merlin, he is portrayed as a scholar who outwits magicians and carries out engineering feats, in this story the author calls on those stories in which he was the abandoned son of a village woman and a 'demon.  He grows up alone and feared by the other villagers for the powers he has to see into the future and make potions to cure the sick.  However, one day the knights of King Vortigern ride into the village hunting "a boy who has no mortal father", and thus his life changes forever.  

The book has an easy to read narrative, which acts as an introduction to the story of Merlin and Arthur, leaving the reader wanting to know more.  However, this is probably my greatest criticism.  It is an introduction and never really develops the suspense which would have a young reader wanting to come back for the next installment.  Furthermore, we don't come to know Merlin intimately enough to care what might happen to him next.  How good it would be to have further chapters.
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This is a new take on the story of King Arthur.  It doesn’t start with Arthur and his childhood like other Arthurian tales do.  This one starts with Merlin’s childhood.  He’s an orphan boy in a tiny town where people rely on and are scared of him.  

I don’t want to say too much more here, since this is a short book, the first in the series.  It’s a good book to read to younger kids as it has great pictures for them to look and and visualize what’s happening in the story.  It is a short book so you can do a quick read with your kids,  I've always liked the stories about the Arthur tale and this is a nice addition to it.

I’d like to keep reading this series because I want to find out what happens next to Merlin.  He was leaving his town as this book ended and I for one don’t like waiting for the next book to begin.  

I’d definitely recommend this to kids of any age.  Even though it’s written for a younger audience, I liked and want to keep reading the series (I’m 57).  So, anyone that’s looking for a new approach to King Arthur, this might be a book and series you’d like to take a look at.
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This book introduces us to a young Merlin, of Arthurian legend fame, who does not yet realise his power or the destiny that awaits him. Having been sought out by Knights, we travel with Merlin to meet King Vortigern, who needs Merlin’s help… although not in the way that either of them expect. 

This is a great introduction to the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The illustrations were good, and the story was engaging enough for us to look forward to the next installment.

My thanks to the author, NetGalley, and the publisher for the arc to review.
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This book is brilliant! There really isn't enough Arthurian Legend around for younger children. The language, storytelling pace and size of this book are perfect for young readers, nicely introducing them to one of the greatest legends of Britain. I really can't wait to read the rest of the series as it comes out and will definitely be recommending it to my customers.
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No Ordinary Boy is the story of young Merlin before King Arthur.  The length of the book, plus its readability lends itself to use in the classroom.  This book will make the Arthurian legend accessible to younger readers.  The story is quick paced and will keep young readers engaged.
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What a great little book. My 8 year old son loved it. Great illustrations. Good story. Lovely layout on the page. 

5 stars.

Thank you for letting me read it.
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First sentence: Merlin was no ordinary eight-year old boy. Like a few other children in his village, he had grown up without parents. Unlike the others, his father had been a demon, and his human mother had abandoned him soon after his birth.

Premise/plot: This new chapter book series by Tracey Mayhew hopes to introduce young readers to the legends of Merlin, Arthur, and the Round Table. This first book introduces young readers to the character of Merlin. Merlin is a young boy still. He's still got supernatural gifts--prophecy--but they've not exactly been cultivated...yet.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I don't know that I loved it. But I definitely liked it. I do like Arthurian legends and it seems that retelling the stories for a younger audience could be a good thing.

I would definitely be interested in reading future books in this series. I like to see variety in chapter books.
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Merlin is a solitary child; people go to him for help, but they are slightly wary of him too, as they know he has unusual powers.  Thundering into the village, a group of knights take him captive and escort him to King Vortigern, who has a purpose for Merlin that no-one will reveal.  However, Merlin has visions…
This is an enjoyable and accessible introduction to a legend that children in the UK will have some knowledge of and which will encourage them to read subsequent books in the series.
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Considering I have loved merlin for ages. I have never known the full story behind it, I know this is aimed at kids but it really enjoyed it. I loved the graphics that went along with the story. I am looking forward to the rest of the saga being told. 

It was a very quick read but it is aimed at children. This didn’t bother me in the slightest. I think it would be great to read to them, if I had any.
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My son enjoyed this book. It was a quick easy read. He is 12 so it was a little under his age range, but still enjoyable.
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Publisher Sweet Cherry issues titles that are retellings, of well-known stories for elementary school aged readers.  This entry introduces the tale of Merlin and is the first in what appears to be a series.  I found this book to be engaging with a level of suspense that is geared toward its young audience.  


The book contains short illustrated chapters.  Readers will learn about Merlin's parentage and why the King summons him.  By the end of this story readers know that Merlin and Arthur's lives will be intertwined.  I look forward to the next entry in this series.  

As an adult, this book inspires me to go back to one of my favoritefavorites, The Once and Future King and to a second wonderful series about Merlin by Mary Stewart.  Hopefully some young readers will be equally inspired.


Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in exchange for an honest review.
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