Take the Roman time period and all that comes with it--especially the gladiators, and throw into it a fast talking zebra who insists he's not a stripey horse, and you have an idea of what Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans is all about. Taken from his waterhole on the African savanna, Julius discovers he's on the way to Rome with Milus the lion and Cornelius the warthog. Discovering he's about to go into the gladiator arena, he learns there is only one way he can earn his freedom. He has to win the approval of the Roman crowds. Can these clueless creatures survive in a world where only the meanest and toughest rule?
My Thoughts on the Book
I am sorry to say that I don't have what it takes to enjoy a book like this. It is DEFINITELY written for the younger crowd--as in elementary--but because the Kindle kept messing up my copy and making the captions for all the illustrations get all jumbled, I couldn't even hand it to my 10 year old to read. But after making my way through it, I realized it wasn't something I WANTED him to read. The humor was all...well elementary level which tends to be about farting and ridiculous stuff.
The story was quite simple--the animals that were taken were trained to be gladiators to fight the "men" as part of Hadrian's birthday bash. If they could make their way through every level and to the final, they had a chance to win their freedom. Julius makes friends with the other animals in captivity and trains to be a gladiator. He actually becomes quite good at it and is ready for the birthday bash, a favorite of the people among the animals...so will he win? And if he does, will he return to his family back in the savanna?
All in all the book is something I am SURE school kids will get a kick out of, and really it might wet their whistle to learning more about the Roman culture and gladiators. But, for my family, it's not the kind of book that we read, as we prefer to keep the boys away from potty humor and name calling--both of which are in this book. There just isn't enough redeeming things to make it of value to my family.
From what I am familiar with, I would say that kids who read Diary of a Wimpy Kid, would probably LOVE this new series as it's written in that style.
I am afraid that Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans is just getting 2 stars from me. I just don't care for this type of children's literature, and it's not something I would let my boys read. I KNOW that there will be others who like it, because their children DO enjoy books of this style. It's just not for us.
by Gary Northfield
ISBN # 978-0763678531