Minecraft 101 for Clueless Moms
When I was asked to be part of a Minecraft Blog Tour, I jumped at the chance- mostly because it meant my nine year daughter, Emerson, might think I was really cool and that is happening less and less these days! But, also because I was curious about what it was about Minecraft that captivates so many kids- and adults, alike!
I agreed to review a new book titled Adventure Against the Enderman by Danica Davidson. Minecraft is a huge interest to my children and although; admittedly, I only knew it as the game with blocks and block people. My daughter had to fill me in on most of it! I wasn’t expecting to be drawn into a world that I didn’t really understand.
Adventure Against the Enderman starts by introducing you to a boy named Stevie, who lives in the Overworld (like Earth but pixelated and with a lot of monsters). Stevie and his friends from Earth have just defeated the evil Herobrine and saved the Overworld. In this book, the Overworld is once again in trouble as villagers go missing and these tall, lanky monsters called Endermen are attacking more and more. Stevie and his friends are summoned by the mayor and they become the task-force (the Overworld Heroes) that will once again save their world.
I was surprised by how well I followed this book! I had no trouble connecting to the main character, Stevie, as he set out to prove himself to bullies, doubters, and to his dad. It reminded me what it was like to be 11 years old- being a little insecure and having to make hard decisions. In the book, Stevie is afraid of the Endermen but never afraid to do what is right!
There were certain aspects of the book that reminded me of a Harry Potter novel. The book is fast paced with twists and thrills around every corner! I think kids will love the adventure and fantasy! And, I have to admit, Adventure Against the Endermen ends with a cliff-hanger that will leave you wondering what is going to happen in Book 2?? Seriously… I want to know!
Here is what Emerson has to say about Adventure Against the Endermen: “Its a great book. You should read this book because its exciting. I’ve never knew that people from Earth could go to the Overworld! My favorite part of the story was when Stevie and his friends are surrounded by the Endermen and I didn’t know how they were going to survive!”
Two years ago, Minecraft became a THING at our house. Emerson talked about it. She watched videos posted by her favorite YouTuber. She would spend the next five days trying to explain the ins and outs of Minecraft to anyone who would listen. Emerson is an avid reader and she started requesting Minecraft books from every school book fair- I didn’t even know there was such a thing but we fed her fascination.
When I ask, “What makes Minecraft so interesting to you?” My smart, articulate daughter would say, “Dunno… because its cool.”
Seeing that I am not going to get a more in depth answer, I turn my attention to someone who might provide some helpful insight, Danica Davidson, the author of Adventure Against the Endermen (and six other Minecrafter’s Adventure books).
SM: What attracted you the Minecraft Universe?
DD: A sense of adventure, and the ability to tell many stories inside the Minecraft world. I want my books to be adventure stories first and foremost, but Minecraft as a game has a lot to offer as a background. So in my first series (which contains the books Escape from the Overworld, Attack on the Overworld, The Rise of Herobrine, Down into the Nether, The Armies of Herobrine and Battle with the Wither) we have characters going into the different fantasy worlds in Minecraft, but they also deal with real world kid issues, like cyberbullying and going to a new school. Minecraft lets me mix and match with what’s real and what’s fantasy. In my spinoff series, which starts with Adventure Against the Endermen, we’re getting set for a new set of adventures, exploring different parts of the Minecraft game and mythos.
SM: How would you describe Minecraft to us (moms) who don’t really understand what it is?
DD: It’s definitely different from other video games out there. In Minecraft, you have your own little world and you decide what you want to do in it. Sometimes people want to play in survival mode, where they have to start from scratch and build their homes and get their own food and fight off monsters. You can also make portals to the Nether or the End, two different worlds you can find in the game. Other people like to play it in peaceful mode (you decide what mode you want to play in). Minecraft has all sorts of supplies that let you build and create, so people might build their own home just the way you want it (I built myself a house made of diamonds with bookcases all over the walls) or make incredible and detailed buildings, like castles. It’s kind of like Legos in the sense you can create what you want, but in Minecraft the supplies can be limitless. A lot of kids also like to play with friends when they play Minecraft, so it can be a fun social activity.
SM: What kind (if any) of values/ morals can children learn from your books/ Minecraft books?
DD: I can only speak for my own books for Minecrafters. A main element in the books would be the importance of friends and family, and also of kindness and thinking about our actions. In the first series, I talk a lot about cyberbullying, and Stevie and Maison have to stop cyberbullies from taking over Minecraft. It’s done in a fantastic setting, but it still talks about what makes a person lash out and what you can do if you’re the brunt of the bullying.
SM: Give us some insight into the main character, Stevie. What makes him special?
DD: Stevie always means well and wants to help out anyone in trouble. But he also feels uncertain about some of his skills and is well aware whenever he messes up (which, like the rest of us, he sometimes does). In each book, I like to see Stevie grow as a person and learn new things.
SM: What other adventures are in store for Stevie and the Overworld Heroes?
DD: Adventure Against the Endermen is setting the stage for the rest of the series. There are a number of mysteries in the first book — what does the crystal mean? Whose evil voice does Stevie hear? These mysteries, and more, will be answered during the course of the series. While the kids go on a series of adventures, it will also bring them closer to learning the truth about mysteries going back thousands of years in the Overworld.
SM: Stevie questioned whether he was a hero. In your opinion, what characteristics does he have/ actions did he do that make him a hero?
DD: This is a theme that’s going to continue during the series, especially as he learns about the man considered the Overworld’s greatest hero. You have the idea that a hero is perfect, but no one is perfect. In the first series we see Stevie and his friends regularly risk their safety for the safety of others, knowing sometimes we all have to step up when something goes wrong. We’ll see a lot more of that in the new series.
SM: Stevie wasn’t friends with the village kids. What advice would you give to kids that feel like they don’t “fit in”?
DD: I think we all feel that some of the time. I still do sometimes. My advice is to look inside yourself and learn who you are and continue to grow. We’re never going to please everyone, but we can all grow and be happy as individuals.
SM: What’s the BEST advice would you give to young writers?
DD: Write! I hear lots of stories of, “I want to be a writer, but . . .” The first step, before anything else, is to write what you love and you enjoy. This will bring our your passion and help you find your voice. No one else can give you these things.
SM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
DD: Please check out my website, www.danicadavidson.com, and my Twitter @DanicaDavidson. Besides my books for Minecrafters, I also write how-to-draw manga books and graphic novels, and I’m interested in writing for more genres and age groups. I love writing all sorts of stuff!
SM: Just for fun: Assuming that the Overworld celebrates Halloween- What would Stevie be for Halloween?
DD: I love Halloween! They do celebrate Halloween in the book The Armies of Herobrine, when Maison takes Stevie to her school Halloween party. He thinks all the costumes are monsters! And the other people think he’s dressed up like a Minecraft character in a really good costume. Since it’s all about creating your own stuff in Minecraft, I think Stevie would make himself a costume as opposed to buying one from a store. Maybe he can disguise himself as an Enderman (wink-wink: that’s a reference to something later in the series!).
SM: Anything else you would like to add that might be useful for us clueless mommas?!
DD: If your kids love Minecraft, I hope you’ll check my books out. Some parents have told me Minecraft makes more sense after reading them. But my biggest thing is that I want to tell a good story, whether someone is a Minecraft fan or not. And mommas aren’t clueless — if you’re a mom, you know all the important stuff!
Thanks for your time, Danica! I’m looking forward to keeping up with Stevie’s adventures and sharing your books with young readers just like my daughter!