The Planet Thieves
Krokos, Dan. New York: Starscape, 2013. 978-0765334282
Quantitative Reading Level: Reading Level 6.3
Qualitative Reading Analysis:
For the grade level that this is intended for I would rate this as middle low on the "Text Complexity: Qualitative Measures Rubric for Literary Text”. Although the book is science fiction and, as such, has some technical science fiction jargon which might push it up to middle high complexity the fact that the theme is a rather simple, the structure is fairly straightforward, and the general language and dialogue is familiar makes the overall complexity of the book middle low. An average fifth grader who would pick this book up would probably have enough science fiction background knowledge to make this book a fairly easy read.
Mason Stark and other cadets are on the ship The Egypt as part of their training during a break in their school. The ESC and an alien race Tremist have been at war for many years and are currently racing to control a planet that would be suitable for both races who are running out of living space on their home planets. After the Tremist board and overtake The Egypt and seize control of a "gate" that will allow them to effectively move a planet to another location Mason and the cadets find themselves in charge and the only ones left who can save the world.
Content area standard:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3 Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.5 Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.9 Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics.
Readers could compare and contrast The Planet Thieves with Star Wars, Star Trek, Ender’s Game, or other science friction space books. Students could examine the concept of tropes in the science fiction subgenre.
Author’s website: http://dankrokos.com/
I am a pretty big Star Trek fan so I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I don’t see a lot of space science fiction besides the numerous Star Wars books so this was a refreshing addition. While it has many similarities to both Star Trek and Star Wars middle school students will not mind. With the Ender’s Game movie coming out soon this book may find an interested audience and it isn’t as violent or disturbing.
Subjects/Themes: Greed, good vs evil, heroism, war
This is the first book in a new series.
Mason Stark – His parents were killed in a Tremist attack, his older sister is an officer on The Egypt, and he is about to save the world.
Tom – The son of the captain of The Egypt and a rival to Mason.
Merrin – Mason’s best friend who has violet hair and very pale skin. Turns out she isn’t who everyone thinks she is.
High Interest Annotation: If you like Star Trek or Star Wars then this new series is for you. Space travel, battles, aliens, and kids your age who save the world – this book has it all.