From Ant to Eagle
Review copy obtained via NetGalley
It’s the summer before grade six and Calvin Sinclair is bored to tears. He’s recently moved from a big city to a small town and there’s nothing to do. It’s hot, he has no friends and the only kid around is his six-year-old brother, Sammy, who can barely throw a basketball as high as the hoop. Cal occupies his time by getting his brother to do almost anything: from collecting ants to doing Calvin’s chores. And Sammy is all too eager – as long as it means getting a “Level” and moving one step closer to his brother’s Eagle status. When Calvin meets Aleta Alvarado, a new girl who shares his love for Goosebumps books and adventure, Sammy is pushed aside. Cal feels guilty, but not enough to change. At least not until a diagnosis causes things at home to fall apart and he’s left wondering whether Sammy will ever complete his own journey from Ant to Eagle.
I read From Ant to Eagle back to back with Running Full Tilt, another book about brothers. The authors both had personal experience with the situations they wrote, which showed.
Cal torments his little brother, using all manner of tricks and manipulation to get his way. When Sammy gets sick, Cal grows up quickly. The book is written in retrospect, with Calvin narrating his own experience. The tone and style evoke adolescent boy without being overwhelming. Calvin is young enough that he has some insight, but lacks the distraction of puberty.
No spoilers, but From Ant to Eagle is sad. It’s a touch sentimental and quite nostalgic. (But maybe that’s just me–if I calculated the years and ages correctly, Calvin would have grown up to be about my age.)
From Ant to Eagle is a strong middle grade book, complex enough for older readers to enjoy, but “clean” enough for younger readers. Strong themes of family, friendship, grief, and growing up. I recommend for nearly any reader.