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A Wizard Named Nell (The Keepers, Book 1) Paperback – October 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6-Eldearth is a land in need of a new Imperial Wizard. The forces of evil are rapidly encroaching, and the Keeper of the Light is growing too old and weak to hold them off. Princess Arenelle has shown unusual gifts in the magical arts and would dearly love to embark on the quest to identify a new apprentice wizard, but, because she is a girl, the best she can hope for is to study at the Academy of Witchcraft. But Nell is clever as well as talented, and finds an unsuspecting substitute-a poor boy named Owen-to masquerade in her place at the Academy, while she secretly undertakes the journey. Along the way, she learns more than she expects about the trials of the common folk of Eldearth, proving her courage and kind heart several times over. This is a fast-moving and easy-to-read choice for fantasy fans. Witches, wizards, and humans coexist in Eldearth, although the magical folk have a higher status and better standard of living. There are vanishrouds and speaking stars reminiscent of Harry Potter's magical devices, but the general populace lives in a preindustrial culture. Nell is a steadfast and admirable heroine while Owen has depth and interest and becomes more than just a stand-in. Both girls and boys will identify with the engaging protagonists. This is the first book in a forthcoming trilogy, so it isn't too surprising when it ends with Nell only just about to gain permission to become apprentice Wizard. Readers will eagerly await the sequels.
Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-5. The Imperial Wizard, who keeps the powers of Darkness at bay, is growing weak. A prophecy states that the new Imperial Wizard must be royally born, tragedy torn, and bearing the mark of the Dove, and the impetuous Princess Nell, whose mother has died, decides that she fits the first two requirements. The King forbids her to go, but Nell sets off secretly on her quest, having found an urchin boy named Owen to go off to the Wizard University in her place. The trials she faces during the three-day journey are fairly tame and in standard fairy-tale form; it is Nell's bravery, generosity, fortitude, and kindness that allow her to prevail. Although the story lacks depth, the fast pace of Nell's adventures, the presence of dragons, and the simple, albeit occasionally choppy writing style make this a good choice for young or reluctant readers. At the conclusion, the reader still doesn't know if Nell is the Chosen One, raising anticipation for a sequel. Eva Mitnick
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689855915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689855917
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Herman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Eleven-year-old Arenelle, called Nell, is the only child of the King of Xandria, one of the kingdoms of Eldearth. She has much potential in the magical arts, and would love to be Imperial Wizard -- especially now that the old Imperial Wizard is dying and needs a successor. But because she is a girl, she won't even get the chance to try -- her father forbids it. Nell is determined to have a chance and prove her worth, and so she runs away from home, determined to find the Imperial Wizard and persuade him to at least consider her. During her difficult and dangerous journey, Nell learns much about her land that she never knew, and proves that she can be brave when she needs to.

Young readers who love magical fantasy tales featuring strong girl characters are sure to enjoy this first book in an enchanting trilogy. Nell is a wonderful and very likable character that readers will cheer on in her quest to prove her worth.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Mo VINE VOICE on December 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
The best children's fantasy books, like Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain and Norton Juster's Phantom Tollbooth, appeal to both children and readers well out of childhood. This is not the case with Jackie French Koller's undistinguished fantasy series. Colorful, brisk, easy to follow, and featuring a brave young heroine of just eleven years of age, A Wizard Named Nell has qualities that may recommend it to very young fantasy readers. However, reduced down to basics, it is the tale of a princess on a quest to save her world from an all powerful Dark Lord-- a tale that is very familiar and has been told, rather better, many times before.

Originality never once rears its head in the tale of Nell's quest to become the next apprentice to the Keeper of the Light, whose job it is to hold the Dark Forces (capitals absolutely required) at bay. The extent to which A Wizard Named Nell falls into fantasy cliches can be verified by looking at entries for "Dark Lord," "Missing Heirs," and "Minions of the Dark Lord" in Diana Wynne Jones's mercilessly satirical Tough Guide to Fantasyland, published in 1996. Nothing is actually wrong with using a few fantasy tropes, but Koller slaps these in her story without ever pausing to fully explore any of them. Eldearth feels like a movie set rather than a full realized world with its own history and rules. Incongruous bits of modernity in what is otherwise a generic, quasi-medieval fantasy world are particularly apparent in the dialogue. Raechel, the sweet, terminally ill child (see "Plague" in the Tough Guide) remarks of Nell's inevitable dragon sidekick, "She be so cute." Thankfully, the writing isn't always that bad, but some of it, combined with some very sloppy copyediting, is worth a cringe or two.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is about Areanall, a princess who wants to become the apprentice of the Imperial Wizard, who is the Keeper of the cepter, which keeps Eldearth free of evil. The Imperial Wizard is getting old, and that is why he needs an apprentice. To take on the Quest, she can only drink at sunset, and cannot eat any food. She only has three days to find the Palace of Light, where the Imperial Wizard lives.
The only one Areanell (or Nell) brings with her, is her Demidragon, Minna.
This is a great book about how if you really want to do somethng, you can. I read this book really fast, because it was so good!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By hiphopgirl_1000 on October 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
Eldearth is a land shared by wizards, witches, humans, and all kinds of magical creatures, but all of this is about to be threatned. The Imperial Wizard, The Keeper of the Light, is dying and if someone new is not found soon, Eldearth will fall into darkness and the evil hands of Lord Graieconn. The tradition has always been that the Imperial Wizard is a wizard, a boy, but time is running out and all the boys who have attempted the extremely difficult quest to become Imperial Wizard have failed. It looks like a different tactic must now be used before time is too late.

Eleven-year-old Princess Arenelle, "Nell", daughter of King Einar, has always shown promise in witchcraft and wants to undertake the difficult quest. Of course her father forbids it mostly because she is a girl and fearing for her overall safety. Nell, being the cunning intelligent girl she is, comes up with a plan to evade her father and sets out on her quest. Along the way she meets many of the people and creatures of Eldearth and sees their many trials. She gains some wisdom and through her kindness to the people Nell shows her true colors. Soon she has an albino dragon, whom she saved from death, and folk helping her on her quest. Can she prove herself worthy to be the Imperial Wizard?

I have always enjoyed the magic of fantasy and this book was no exception. I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy. However some parts of this book were quite reminiscent of other books I've read in the past. This is not the first time I've heard of something called the Keeper of the Light. I think that was also part of the Rowan books by Emily Rodda. However Koller manages to give her own spin to these books and Nell is a true heroine. A definite recommendation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jack & Chase's Mom on December 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
My 9 year old son read all 3 books in one weekend! Even thought Grammie & Grandpa were visiting he kept reading ... even through dinner out. I'm serious, he read in the car, in bed and even put down GameBoy for the entire weekend (he only gets GB on the weekend) to read the books! He was laughing out loud while reading and LOVED the characters. Said he wished the series was like Box Car Children because there are 100's of those books. I love the fact that he likes them and the lead character is a strong girl. YEAH! Be sure you have all 3 on hand ...
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A Wizard Named Nell (The Keepers, Book 1)
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