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CompleteMartialArts.com - Night On The Mountain Of Fear (Black Belt Club)

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Manufacturer: The Blue Sky Press
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Binding: Paperback
EAN: 9780439639392
ISBN: 0439639395
Label: The Blue Sky Press
Manufacturer: The Blue Sky Press
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 176
Publication Date: 2006-03-01
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Studio: The Blue Sky Press

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Editorial Reviews:

Max, Antonio, Maia, and Jamie are back in this high-drama action novel starring the Black Belt Club! Filled with comic-book-like illustrations, this fast-paced adventure follows our heroes into a scary desert world controlled by the evil Hate Master, Heyoka. Together, these four karate students must overcome terrifying tarantulas, vampire bats, and the Hate Master, who feeds off their fear. Only when they discover the true meaning of friendship will the Black Belt Club, and the world, be safe once more.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Night on Fear Mountain (Black Belt Club)
Comment: As a former educator and parent to a 9 year Karate student I was touched by this story. Like the previous book, "Seven Wheels of Power" we are reaquaiinted with Max and his fellow Black Belt Club members. Max is still struggling with self-confidence and low-self esteem, and through his journey he learns to listen to his positive self rather than his doubting fears.

What I liked most about the story was the message that we shouldn't let fear make our choices for us. This is something my daughter has been dealing with a lot, and after reading the story she was a able to get a better perspective as to what "working through it", "move past it" or "trusting yourself" truly means.

These books were an adventure to read and we both look forward to reading the next book.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: cancel the order.
Comment: I would like to cancel this order if it is not shipped today.

Chang Ma Din

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: The Black Belt Club Wins Again
Comment: As a mother of a six year old boy who has been attending Dawn Barnes Karate for over two years and as a teacher of child education I was asked to read this new chapter book.Night on the Mountain of Fear was a very entertaining story. I tried to read it from a childs point of view not as an adult.
The story is written in a way that I could imagine myself there in the journey with the Black Belt Club. The imaginative descriptions and the wonderful pictures on every page helped make it seem more real.
I felt that this story hit on two of the most valuable concepts for children to know and understand in the world today. One was to feel good enough about yourself and to believe that if you try your best and never give up you will succeed in life. The other concept was that love and friendship is more powerful than hate. The story is a good way to have a little adventure and to remind us of things that are important. The Black Belt Club has to keep their balance of mind, body and spirit.
I am presently reading the story to my son and he is really enjoying it.In the middle of the chapters he likes to practice the kata moves that are in the back of the book. He now wants to be in the Black Belt Club and go on a journey.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Kid Friendly Reading Material
Comment: As a special educator, I really appreciate this particular book series. The books are a unique blend of chapter book and graphic novel with an illustration on every page. This format makes it a motivating read for reluctant readers. Book 2, Night on the Mountain of Fear is a fun adventure where four karate kids must use team work and face fears in order to save the world. The story touches in on some valuable Native American concepts of balance between the four elements and "walking in beauty," or being a good person. Dawn Barnes, the author, writes in a way that explains universal ideas in "kid language." Many children's books seem to be written by adults looking for awards. Her books are written for children in a way they can understand and enjoy. I recommend this book series to parents and teachers who want stories that revolve around respect, team work, and personal growth. This book makes kids want to read!! Personally, I cannot wait to see it on the big screen!!

Customer Rating: Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5
Summary: It's a good thing?
Comment: For good or for ill I recently was asked to help pick out graphic novels for children of my library system. I suspect I was asked this partly because I am under the age of 30 and partly because my brother-in-law is a comic book inker. The upside is that I get to see lots and lots of new titles for kids. The down side is that more often than not they're truly terrible. I mean just awful stuff. Now recently Scholastic has been trying to corner the market on quality graphic novels for children. Somehow they missed the "Babymouse" boat, but they've already given us "Bone" and "The Baby-Sitters Club" series. It's not all good all the time though. Recently a co-worker threw a series title, "The Black Belt Club" onto my desk and asked me to read it through. I had no idea when I read this book just how heavily Scholastic was riding on it. Already the first book in the series (this is the second) has been optioned for a film. Go to the book's website and you'll learn about their hopes for an animated series, video games, the whole nine yards. There's just one catch. Unless the books become mighty popular, there won't be much point to all the hyping. And reading it through I have no idea if kids are gonna go in for its "prose and comic hybrid" style or not.

Max has never felt completely at ease as a member of the exclusive Black Belt Club. The club consists of four students who are sent by their sensei into the world to fight evil. Pretty standard stuff. After a disappointing demo team performance he returns to the dojo for a special assignment with his fellows. There they are told by a mysterious magical Native American woman named Grandmother Dancing Feather that there's been an imbalance between the four elements in the world. It's up to the kids to defeat The Hate Master (honestly, that's his name) and get the elements back in alignment. Along the way, Max has to face up to his fears as well as his own sorrows. But it's only through friendship that the four can join together and defeat their enemy once and for all.

The book is a combination of written prose and graphic novel elements. In a way, Scholastic is banking on this series to be a kind of link between straight out comic books and straight out literature. Like "Captain Underpants", this is supposed to bridge the gap. The funny thing is, Scholastic keeps referring to this series as the "first ever prose and comic hybrid". It says this on the book's webpage. Now this is where it gets funny. "Captain Underpants" came up with this style way way before Barnes ever did. And "Captain Underpants" is produced by Blue Sky Press which is an imprint of... Scholastic, Inc! So if Scholastic already has the real "hybrid" credited to their name, what the heck are they doing foisting credit to "The Black Belt Club" books? Just weird. Anyway, what was I saying? Ah yes. This new technique. Well, insofar as it goes, it works. The problem is not in the style but in the writing. THAT, unfortunately, is where it begins to fall apart.

Since the first book, Barnes has kicked up the emotional conflict. Her hero Max still has self-esteem issues and he sometimes doubts whether or not the three other members of the club are really his friends (a legitimate concern). There's also an odd backstory where Max is taken care of by his gruff karate-hating uncle because his father is so often away on business. None of that is really resolved in this book, however. Apparently by the end Max has discovered that, "There was nothing better in the whole wide world than having friends!". Also that, "love is stronger than hate". No real innovation or new ideas here. Barnes is perfectly content to rely on old overused phrases like these, when even a simple rewording could have conveyed the same thoughts without seeming overly trite. And that, unfortunately, is the problem with this series itself. It's just too simplistic. There's lots of fancy action sequences, and the parts with Max on his own are fine, but the moralistic tone is more than a little preachy and self-serving.

Then there are the weird elements. In this particular book, the kids are visited by a magical old Native American woman named Grandmother Dancing Feather. What tribe is she with? It apparently doesn't matter. What does matter is that she represents a kind of condensed be-one-with-the-world combination of every pseudo-Native American teaching out there. In the back of the book we're told that Dawn Barnes did some "personal studies" with a Seneca Shaman and a Ute Shaman. She then takes the very very vague notion of "interconnectedness between themselves [i.e. children] and other living beings" and smooshes it into one big mess. It's not that such ideas aren't legitimate. It's that she's watered and dumbed them down in what she obviously thought was a kid-friendly fashion. Then she takes the rather offensive route of having a magical person of another ethnicity guide the kids. Even EVEN if Barnes had said that the villain was a coyote (which apparently he is) and then explained who coyote was to some Native American tribes THEN she might have tied together a legitimate myth with her video-gamelike storyline. Instead she doesn't seem to want to spoil her tale with anything with that much depth. Pah.

The plot of the book is taken directly from Barnes's belief in a teaching style she has dubbed, "positive dialogue response". A November 1, 2005 issue of Entrepreneur said that this meant, "motivating children with praise rather than fear". Therefore fear is bad in her books. Anger's bad too. Part of the problem with the book is that Barnes equates anger with hate, making both out to be bad. I'm all for the "hate is bad" part, but anger has a real use in this world. It can be used to fight injustice, for example. Blasé people, for all their charms, won't go fighting for what is right if they don't feel angry with the situation at hand. Barnes doesn't quite acknowledge this and the book suffers.

Now Dawn Barnes (who bears a truly frightening resemblance to the Sensei featured in the books) has the credentials to pen this kind of "novel with action graphics". She's called the "Martha Stewart of Karate" in her own press releases. Already the Director of Children's Education for the National Association of Professional Martial Artists (does that make her a DOCENAPMA?) she's apparently a third-degree black belt. A Beverly Hills former ballerina black-belt, but a black belt all the same. A quick gander at her website at this moment in time shows that not much has happened with the book series since it sold its film rights back in July of 2005. In spite of its novel appearance, I wouldn't expect much more to happen either.

When it comes down to it, you can have a good idea for a kind of book, a good set of nonviolent attitudes, factual information on a karate technique, and still end up with a not-so-hotso book simply because the writing is sub-par. For those kids into the idea of karate, the book will be much loved and read. For others, however, the overly hokey writing will turn them away and they'll be far more interested in better books like "Bone". A fine title but nothing to get worked up about.

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