From Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle
5 Stars !!
FROM ANT TO EAGLE is novel for children ages ten and up. The author is a pediatrician and based this novel on some of his experiences working in the pediatric oncology unit.
Calvin Sinclair is 11 years old and tells us this is a story about his brother, six-year-old, Sammy.
He wants us to know that he loved his brother. Like any other brother he picked on Sammy, but deep down of course he loved him. The second thing he wants us to know is that…
He’s the one that killed Sammy.
The summer after moving to a small town “The boonies”, Calvin and Sammy didn’t have much to do. They didn’t even have a TV. Calvin entertained himself by manipulating Sammy into doing his chores. Sammy wanted to achieve the level of Eagle that his brother had. Calvin told him he would help him but that he had to listen to him in order to earn it. Calvin was skilled at getting Sammy to do what he wanted him to do.
For example “Operation Bee Elimination”. But when the operation fails – with many battle scars, Calvin gives Sammy the thing he knows his brother wants more than anything. A level.
“After long hours of meticulously examining every detail of today’s operation, the committee has decided to award you your next level”
Nothing could make Sammy happier. Calvin started the level system two years before (basically to make Sammy do anything Calvin wanted). Starting with Ant onto beetle ,worm, snail, rabbit…
These were all for things like eating a worm, stealing food from the fridge for Calvin, or for taking the blame for things he hadn’t done. After Sammy achieved a level, Calvin wrote in a journal, signing and dating it to make it official. Of course Calvin is at the highest level of Eagle even though he’s never done anything to get it. He told Sammy it all happened before he was born and of course, Sammy believed him.
Having no one but Sammy to play with was hard for Calvin. But Sundays were the worst. Sunday mornings meant church with itchy and uncomfortable clothing. But the day Aleta and her family come to church that all changes. Suddenly, Sundays aren’t so bad. Not only was Aleta pretty, but she also read RL Stine books just like he did. When she hid the Goosebumps book in her Hymn book in Church, Calvin knew they would soon be friends. But Aleta has some secrets. She’s often quiet and sad. She tells Calvin she doesn’t want to talk about it and he respects that.
Calvin wants to spend all of his time with Aleta and it annoys him that Sammy wants to come along with them. He finds a way to keep Sammy occupied so he can spend time with Aleta. This works until his mother realizes what he’s doing. Calvin agrees to start taking Sammy with him.
But all of a sudden Sammy isn’t feeling very well. Fevers and night sweats leave him exhausted and unable to do very much.
Then a diagnosis rocks the family to the core.
This was an excellent read. Not only is it a very good story but it helps provide an understanding of things that a lot of children would normally have a hard time understanding. Words like diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and many medical terms are broken down into easy to understand examples. I learned many things myself. And while the story is very realistic, the author handles the serious issues in a very sensitive manner.
FROM ANT TO EAGLE is a well-written novel. I thought this might be a very upsetting read due to the subject matter, and I did shed quite a few tears, but this is a story about more than just illness and sadness. There’s love, family, friendship,forgiveness, hope, and much more. And while it was sad at times, there were many endearing and funny parts as well.
I believe this book would be good for a variety of readers. It does say age 10 + on my copy but I think that depends on the child who is reading it. For many children this would be fine. In other cases if a child is still too young in either age or maturity, I believe that reading this book with an adult could be an excellent way of helping to open up the lines of communication, while still reading a very good story.
An unforgettable, entertaining, and inspiring read. Alex Lyttle did an excellent job of bringing his characters to life. The powerful dynamics of friendship and love. The relationships and friendships portrayed were wonderful and heartwarming to read. Sammy and Cal are terrific characters with an incredible bond that shines throughout the story. They are characters that won’t soon be forgotten.
Thank you, Alex Lyttle for providing a physical copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.