THE TWELVE CHALLENGES OF ALEXYFIDO by Ali Najjar-Khatirkolaei

THE TWELVE CHALLENGES OF ALEXYFIDO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A young boy goes on a fantastic imaginary adventure while his mother has a baby in this debut short children’s story by 9-year-old Najjar-Khatirkolaei.

Six-year-old Alexyfido is confused when his parents go to the hospital and leave him with his neighbor and friend Philip. When they return home with a baby, Alexyfido is thrilled that they get to keep his new brother. Three years later, Philip and Alexyfido must defend their beloved brothers against a villainous police officer, Zut, who’s determined to arrest all younger siblings. With the help of a coerced scientist named Cronitusse, Zut gains control of a teleportation machine and captures the town’s small children. With the police unable to stop Zut, it falls to Philip and Alexyfido to get their brothers back. After Philip falls during one of Zut’s challenges, Alexyfido continues on his own and eventually fights a mechanical dragon and Zut himself. As the story concludes, the author reveals that the entire tale has been a story told by Philip’s mother to keep the boys entertained while Alexyfido’s mother gives birth elsewhere. Alexyfido, a likeable protagonist with a clear sense of right and wrong, handles the challenges set before him with cleverness and bravery. The story also offers insight into its child protagonist’s simple worldview: “His mother explained that she went to the hospital because she was going to have a baby, and she wanted to surprise him. Alexyfido then understood why his mother had a big belly.” The challenges themselves are imaginative and include riddles and physically daunting tasks. Zut, driven by his jealousy of a brother decades younger than he is, never develops beyond a two-dimensional villain, but this is unsurprising in a story intended as a quirky adventure tale, and his eventual defeat is appropriate, if perhaps a little violent for young readers. Najjar-Khatirkolaei writes beyond his age, but still has plenty of room to grow as a writer.

A creative short tale that’s likely to entertain young readers.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1490713588
Page count: 44pp
Publisher: Trafford
Program: Kirkus Indie
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