That last book report is easier than you think

A fascinating study of literary adventure by email:

I had the privilege of mentoring a teen student recently. Victoria’s questions about her book report were so well laid out, I thought our talk might be helpful and entertaining to you. At the bottom of our post is a link to a free medieval poem, Falcon’s Ode. Plus a link to Falcon Flight, a young adult medieval fantasy, free 5/13 – 5/16. Family friendly of course. But definitely adventurous! 🙂

And here’s our adventure by email:

Victoria (email and last name omitted for privacy)
Apr 28 (7 days ago)
to me
Hello Azalea,
I’m Victoria, Jorge’s cousin, I hope you recognize who I am. The reason I wanted to send you an email is because of the book report I’m doing on your novel “Falcon Heart.” I was wondering if I could ask for your help on some parts, since I’ve been struggling to complete it. I would really appreciate any help I receive.
               Sincerely, Victoria 

Me: Hi Victoria,

It’s good to hear from you. Sure, I’d be glad to help. What are you having trouble with?

Victoria: I was wondering if you could clarify a couple of themes within the novel. As well as what point of view it’s from. Like if it’s limited or omniscient, since I don’t entirely know what that means.

There other things as well, like a character study of a minor and major character. We must then identify a theme that is developed with the plot, so we have to describe the entire plot of the book. The last thing would be a symbol we deemed important. I know it’s a lot to ask for but if you could help me with some bits of it, I would gladly appreciate all of your help.

Me: It’s good to hear your questions, Victoria. I’m glad you asked. 🙂 I’ll make a list [of questions and answers] here.

Q 1: Could you clarify a couple of themes in the novel?

A 1: Themes. When most people talk about themes they seem to mean what the main character learned or didn’t learn over the course of the book [and what that teaches you]. What the main point or points of the book are. Often themes have two sides. Like courage and fear. [Or more.] What do you feel Kyrin wanted the most, that would help her learn the sword so she could get back to her father?

Q 2: What point of view is it from? Like is it limited or omniscient? 

A 2: Here’s a quick run down on the basic points of view. Or POV, as we say in author language.
Omniscient POV is when the author writes the story as if they were God, able to look inside everyone’s head and see things that happen through their thoughts and eyes – basically narrate or tell the story from any point of view at any time.
First person is when the character tells the story from her POV. Like, “I kicked my horse and we galloped over the sand.”
Second person is rarely used. It’s when the author talks to the reader. “You smelled the dirty street and wrinkled your nose, but you kept your gun up. You never forget you’re a cop.”
Third person POV is when someone besides the main character tells someone else’s adventures. “Cicero sniffed at the air, his nose quivering, ears alert.”

Third person limited is when the author tells the story through one character’s POV. Falcon Heart is primarily from Kyrin’s POV, but whose other thoughts do you hear, especially in Chapter 29? That always gives it away. So it’s not limited.

Q 3: How about a character study of a minor and major character? 

A 3: You can probably figure out who the main/major character is. “Character study” probably means that you give a brief picture of who Kyrin is and what she is like at the beginning of the book, and what she learns, or how she’s changed, by the end. By the way, this will overlap with theme and plot. Just give your teachers a general idea of how the character grows. That’s what they want, I think. In author language, the “character arc.”
b. Tae, Alaina, Ali, Faisal, all these are minor characters. Pick one and tell what they’re about. What are their goals? What drives them?

Q 4: How do I identify a theme that is developed with the plot? We have to describe the entire plot of the book.

A 4: As for a theme developed with the plot, I think that’s a little of a trick question, because any good author will never make a theme separate from the plot, that I know of. In a good story they’re woven together. LOL [Think of the themes of Kyrin’s fear of the sword, and courage to face the blade for her friends, and how the plot (things that happen) drive these forward.]
Whenever you hear the word “plot,” think action. This person did this, which made this happen, so this person did this . . . This happened, then this happened, etc. That’s the plot. Mostly the big, earth-shaking happenings that drove the character, and so created the story. The first plot points would be Kyrin’s father, Lord Cieri, sending her to her godfather’s, where she’s kidnapped. The Arab slaver’s men murder her mother, so Kyrin is set on vengeance. [Then the best warrior she’s ever seen tells her that’s not a good way.] That’s [five] plot points. I hope this helps enough so you can figure out the rest. 🙂

Q 5: The last thing would be a symbol we deemed important . . .

A 5: Symbols are tricky. I’m glad your teachers gave you the distinction “a symbol you deem important.” Different readers will see different meanings in a book. A symbol is just something that carries more meaning than it holds in itself. Like the falcon dagger is a symbol of courage to Kyrin. What do you think the tiger [in her dreams] means or represents to her? How about the falcon chained to his neck? Which of these symbols mean the most to you, and why? Is there something else in Falcon Heart that is a symbol of something to you? What does it mean or represent to you?

I sure had fun with your questions, Victoria. I hope this helps. Be sure and let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for choosing my book for your report!

God bless your night,


(Short Bio) Azalea Dabill grew up building forts in the oaks of the California hills. She remembers the fuzzy sweetness of moss and acorns, the perfume of lupines and poppies, the night-song of crickets, and day-time hunts for lizards and squirrels. Homeschooled, she read fantasy and adventure of all sorts to her siblings. Now she enjoys growing things, bookstores old and new, and hiking the wild.

Never finding enough tales of adventure, romance, and mystery, Azalea writes young adult fantasy. YA mythic fantasy that spans worlds near and far. Reading level twelve years old and up. You will find great adventures for your body, heart, and soul.

Crossover: Find the Eternal, the Adventure.

And as promised, here’s the link to Falcon’s Ode, and here’s the one to Falcon Heart (Chronicle I) free May 13th – 16th. And if you’re interested in a family friendly 21-book Epic Fantasy giveaway click here . . .

And if you have any questions you’d like to ask me about your homeschool book project you’re working on before summer vacation, just contact me at my email below. 🙂 

Thanks for reading!

Azalea Dabill

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