The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

Redd Becker Book Review

The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

Ear, Eye and Arm is Tendai’s coming-of-age story. He leaves home with his younger siblings as a boy and returns a man. Nancy Farmer writes each adventure the children encounter deftly while spicing them with basic human foibles. Issues woven between the lines include: greed, power, laziness, unrestrained talk, retardation, childhood innocence.

Farmer writes in a more literary style than many books these days, but this tale was engaging. Encounters with interesting characters and compelling situations kept me reading.

Farmer created a science fiction alternate-history in Zimbabwe. It’s a future of robots and mutated humans. When three children of a high-level law enforcement official run away from home for a day’s adventure, they fall into the clutches of kidnappers. They escape only to begin a journey filled with many harrowing situations. While the children grapple with the underbelly of their city, their parents and three detectives (Eye, Ear and Arm) attempt to find them. The children’s adventures cover the gamut from: scavenging among ancient trash fields where the poor mine plastic, to helping out at ‘Resthaven”s back to nature enclave, to relaxing at a children’s boarding home, but at a price. 

Nancy Farmer Awards

Farmer gains recognition through her acclaimed awards: Newberry Honor Book, Golden Kite Honor Book and Parent’s Choice Book. There must be more.

My Rating four-stars

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy FarmerThe Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer
Published by Firebird on January 14th 2002
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Adventure
Pages: 320
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Tendai, his little sister and their younger brother escape from their splendid home to explore their dangerous city. Tendai is motivated by wanting to earn a scouting badge, and he desperately wants to prove himself, as their overprotective father has always placed tight restrictions on what the siblings can and can't do.

The House of Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Redd Becker Book Review

The House of the Scorpion In The House of the Scorpion Nancy Farmer explores the idea of cloning in order to harvest organs to guarantee another’s survival. Farmer has a literary style of writing and uses sophisticated language to tell her stories, but this story flows easily.

This is a futuristic world where a country ruled by a powerful drug lord separates the USA from Mexico. Farmer provides plenty of detailed descriptions that make her alternate world appear plausible.

In this story Farmer unfolds for us the route Matteo, the young protagonist, takes on his journey to self discovery. He begins his life locked in near isolation as a monster without rights. Later we discover he lives as a pawn created to ensure his master’s future health.  Farmer integrates social issues in all her stories. She incorporates ideas on individual rights, slavery, loving those we fear and the effects of extreme power, in a humane in this gripping story.

Awards for The House of the Scorpion

Farmer’s book has won much recognition as a National Book Award Winner, Newberry Honor Book and American Library Association’s Honor Book for Young Adult Literature. All with well reason. I’ve enjoyed reading The House of the Scorpion twice. It was a compelling read both times.

The House of the Scorpion Discussion Questions

Schmoop has some pretty good questions to prompt discussions in class or in your book group. Or try Simon and Schuster’s Pulse Guide for Reading Groups for The House of the Scorpion.

My Rating five-stars

The House of Scorpion by Nancy FarmerThe House of the Scorpion (Matteo Alacran, #1) by Nancy Farmer
Series: Matteo Alacran #1
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on January 1st 1970
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 380
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Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested with the DNA from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium. Can a boy who was bred to guarantee another’s survival find his own purpose in life? And can he ever be free?