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*Daring Quests of Mystics* by Shirley Cheng - young readers book review



Daring Quests of Mystics
by Shirley Cheng
Ages 9-12 224 pages Lulu Press December 2005 Paperback    

Daring Quest Of Mystics is a book of eight fairytale-style stories featuring Princess Sophia from the medieval kingdom of Noxellia. The preface introduces us to these stories, telling the reader that they are meant to teach children good values and, most of all, to believe in themselves. While these are good goals, I would advise that anyone reading this to children not read the preface to them; no child I've met will be taught anything when told that learning a lesson is the main purpose of reading a story.

In one story, Princess Sophia bravely rescues her beloved father, King Fulacian, after he is kidnapped by her betrothed. Prince Lornox does not, as he has pretended, love the princess. He wants only control of her kingdom, and if killing her father is the way to do it, then that's exactly what he will do. Using the gifts of a white dove and a rhinestone ring given to her by the oracle Dawn, Sophia courageously sets off to rescue her father.

The intention of teaching children good values is admirable, but not many children will learn them from these stories. Princess Sophia is rather dull most of the time, and the plots are predictable. The target audience for these stories have short attention spans; it is doubtful that they would sit still long enough to read through all of this. Each story, though, shows the importance of bravery, cherishing life, believing in oneself, spiritualism, love, devotion, and good hearts.

Author Shirley Cheng, however, must be admired, not only for her good intentions in writing these stories but for the hardships she has overcome. Diagnosed with severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis before she was a year old, she lost her eyesight at seventeen. It took her only 160 days of education at the age of eleven to be transferred to a regular sixth-grade class, and she progressed with her educatoin at a normal pace - as a straight A student. She is a remarkably strong person; many people with far less serious worries voice their ambitions to write a book but find it too difficult and time-consuming.

Everything gets better with practice, and perhaps Shirley Cheng's next book, a collection of poetry and short stories now in progress, will improve upon Daring Quest Of Mystics, which, of course, might be worth reading if you are craving a book of short fantasy stories and want them to have a heroine who exhibits admirable human qualities. It is also a remarkable testimony to the strenghth of the human spirit, when you consider what Shirley Cheng has been through in her life and still managed to write a book. Two to date, in fact. She has also published The Revelation Of A Star's Endless Shine: A Young Woman's Autobiography of a Twenty-Year Tale Of Trials And Tribulations.

If the intention is to entertain children while teaching them good values, this book falls a bit short of some others. Other collections of fantasy stories, while still having heroes and heroines who are of good character, manage to be much more entertaining than Daring Quest Of Mystics, which, honestly, had me daydreaming quite a bit as I read it. Still, the effort is to be admired.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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