December 18, 2019

The Three Spartans

Written by James McCann
Crwth Press
160 pp.
Ages 8-12
October 2019
"This is our war!" I yelled, pumping my fish in the air. "It's our turn to take back our freedom! No more are we the weak children alone in the water park, fearing the Immortals. Today, we are warriors. Today, we are Spartans!" (pg. 64)

The Spartans may have fought the Athenians and the Persians in ancient Greece but their legacy is valiantly upheld by Art and Lea as they come together in Birch Bay to challenge rich kid and bully Zeke for the freedom to enjoy the local water park and private beach.

Summers for Art and his parents have meant visiting the family cabin at Birch Bay and, for Art, enjoying the friendship of local and year-rounder Lea. The kids have their routines of exchanging books at the bookshop, eating at the Fish Shack and playing video games. This summer, they're playing Zero A.D., a game which Art's dad helped develop about ancient Greece. The two kids, lovers of ancient history, are all into the game and Lea even shares with other kids how to get onto the game's server. After Art is humiliated at the local water park when a video of him throwing up at another water slide is revealed and Zeke makes sure to share it with everyone, Art finds solace in playing Zero A.D. That is until Zeke too gets onto the game, building an army of Persians, and threatening Art and Lea's dominance. 

When they challenge Zeke to a game of environmentally-friendly paintball with the local tree house as the target for Art and Lea to defend against Zeke, the kids hope to win back access to the water park and a private beach without Zeke impeding who is allowed in. Wearing colourful helmets adorned with crests of feathers, just like the Spartans, Art and Lea are joined by another local, George, and other kids tired of being bullied by Zeke. Unfortunately Zeke has likewise added to his army mostly with kids who want to stay on his good side. With so many players, many of whom are unknown to Art and Lea, it's hard to tell who to trust and how to stay safe.

The Three Spartans is about taking on a challenge to defeat an enemy but, by basing the story on the ancient history of the Spartans and blending it with a video game and paintball, BC author James McCann has translated it into a contemporary conflict with which middle-graders will be familiar. They know bullies and being embarrassed and being afraid of colossal water slides and gossip and viral videos and gaming. They get jealous when friends spend time with other friends and when some kids think they can do whatever they want. They know how to do things under the radar of their parents but also know when to enlist the help of an adult. And they know about making mistakes. Told in their voices, The Three Spartans will speak to them about being kids and managing bullies and life's challenges, sometimes with a trashcan lid as a shield and a feathered paintball helmet.


A book trailer for The Three Spartans was posted by publisher Crwth Press at

Uploaded by Crwth Press to YouTube on October 17, 2019.

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