Posted in 2014-2015 Club, Not Mock Newbery

The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen, by Nicholas Christopher

True Adventures of Nicolo ZenSummary: Nicolo is all alone in 1700s Venice, save for his clarinet, enchanted by a mysterious magician to allow its first player to perform expertly. Soon Nicolo is a famous virtuoso, wealthy beyond his dreams, but he can’t stop wondering if he earned the success — or the girl he met in Venice is safe from harm.

Random House

Find it at WCPL


2 thoughts on “The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen, by Nicholas Christopher

  1. I really loved this book because it was written during my favorite and most studied time period, written about my favorite topic and area of expertise and included my favorite composer however, despite that fact that I enjoyed this book so much I feel there were a few parts about it that may hold it back from winning the Newbery. I loved the ideas the writer had though and the way he imagined the plot, setting and characters, specifically Vivaldi who I think he did a fabulous job recreating and was just in line with the way I always picture him. I believe that tons of information on the time period also could be learned from this book, however it does such a complete and realistic job recreating Italy and Austria that the reader gets the entire picture, which may not be good for kids under fourteen. One thing I found was that this book was really plot dependent when I felt that it could have easily gone deeper into the characters and theme both of which, if developed properly, would have been amazing. In other words, you may come to really like a character but then the book moves on to a whole different place to keep up with the “adventurous plot” that the writer seemed to think very important. I would have preferred if the author took longer to allow you to come to know the characters for yourself without depending on descriptions. The writing style almost made up for this fast pace, because of the way the descriptions were so beautiful and memorable but not quite and near the end the descriptive writing style actually began to drag on when you hear the floor described in amazing detail for the third time almost. Because I loved this book so much it makes it hard for me to say no to it winning the Newbery, but I believe that a few important qualities were lacking and the age may even be bordering on more for high school readers.

    1. The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen follows the life of Nicolo Zen, and orphan who tries to survive in 1700s Venice. Nicolo has many exciting adventures with magicians, thugs, and musicians. Magic was a reappearing topic in the book. The author did a great job explaining the magical processes and actually managed to make magic somewhat logical.
      The plot was very original and interesting. Nicholas Christopher was able to add humor and drama into the plot. However, he fluctuated between past and present many times in each chapter. The story would have been much better if the author included the whole background before jumping into the story.
      Also, this book is not eligible for Newbery. There is some material in this book that would only be appropriate for 14-16 year olds. During the 1700s in Venice women were not respected by the men, which leads to more adult themes. This also hurts the book because some of the adult themes are necessary to the development and plot of the story. There is also cursing throughout the book.
      I believe that the story’s plot was very well thought out and original, with deep characters that you connected with. But some of the material in the book make it not appropriate for 3/4 of the readers in Newbery.

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