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The Ear the Eye and the Arm

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  13,236 Ratings  ·  761 Reviews
A Newbery Honor BookAn ALA Best Book for Young AdultsZimbabwe, 2194. When the three children of the wealthy and powerful General Matsika steal out of the house on a forbidden adventure and promptly disappear, their parents call in the best detectives in Africa: the Ear, the Eye and the Arm.
Hardcover, Large Print, 477 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Thorndike Press (first published January 1st 1994)
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Aug 06, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
I enjoyed this book, but it had problems.

The story is about a group of 3 children who go out into the world and get kidnapped. Excessively. They get kidnapped, and escape, and then kidnapped again, and escape, over and over again. To the point where it stops being believable.

The other problem is that the author set out to write a sci-fi novel. I know this, because she says so in the introduction. It is not a sci-fi novel. The book has a bunch of stock sci-fi features, but they are randomly stuc
Brendan W.
Sep 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: awesome
This book is amazing. Period. End of story.
Last year, when I was strolling through the classroom library, I came upon this book. I saw the cover and I said, "This is the best cover ever." Others may disagree with that statement, but I'm me and I thought it looked awesome. I decided to give it a shot. BAM! It blew me away. KAPOW! It knocked my socks off. ZIP! I read it so fast because it was so FREAKING AWESOME! This author, Nancy Farmer, does a FANTASTIC job developing the characters in separat
Kevin Xu
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book back a little over ten years ago on the recommendation of my English teacher. One of the best young adult book I have ever read. The best parts are all the characters are so fresh and lively, the settling is top to none. It is a book that is felt with everything for me. A book that just grabs the reader right in and never lets go. I never felt I was in Africa at all.

Farmer is a great writer that I see rise with more Middle School readers reading her later books, especially
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
This book has taken me about a year to finish. It' odd though because the story or the writing kept drawing me back in. I found it difficult to build sympathy for the characters. The detectives hired to find the lost children are bumbling oafs and are always one step behind. The children themselves are thrust into the same scenario of "captured"/"escaped" over and over again. I can't truly explain what is missing from this book - I think it may be the lack of backstory or the inability to define ...more
Feb 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen, sf
I really appreciated that the fact that this SF novel was set in Zimbabwe and actually incorporated myths and traditions from Zimbabwean culture into the story -- very few SF novels take place in non-Western settings and feature non-white protagonists, almost no teen SF novels do this. Another strong point was the nuanced depiction of Resthaven, the seemingly idyllic throwback to premodern Africa hidden in the heart of the city -- Farmer deftly demonstrates to young readers that it is foolish to ...more
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great memories of this book, if only because it was so different from anything else I'd read at age 12 or so. I'd hate to read it again and have those memories ruined, but I still kind of want to. Because dystopian Zimbabwe, supernatural detectives, and spirits in masks.
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kori Morris
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the book a lot - the author tried to pay homage to real traditions and beloefs as much as possible. My main gripe with the book is that the villains seem unnecessarily vile and vicious without any depth.
This was a really (junior high level) amazing foray into ideas about identity, belonging, and cultural purity/evolution. The amazing detectives (named in the title) who discover, ultimately and by accident, the whereabouts of the Security Chief's kidnapped children are blessed/cursed with special abilities as a result of a radioactive accident in their anscestor's past. This futuristic novella dares to set itself in the (probable?) world of 22nd century Zimbabwe. Surprisingly, matters of color a ...more
Greg Kerestan
Young adult novel? Check. Zimbabwean backwoods journey? Check. Cyberpunk futurist setting? Check. You don't get a lot of books that hit all three of those points- this may be the only one. As a fifth grader I wasn't entirely sure what to make of this novel, but it grew on me as I read. There are elements I remember to this day: the house full of taxidermies; the mile-high hotel skyscraper; the multiethnic mutated detectives. The writing isn't entirely polished, but this book still gets high poin ...more
Jackie B. - Death by Tsundoku
Set in Zimbabwe, 2194, Farmer crafts a future Africa which has conquered the globe. Zimbabwe plays host to communities segregated by wealth and culture, such as the African Shona tribe and the English or Portuguese tribes. Famer's Zimbabwe is a rising power, largely critical of the post-colonial race the country currently is experiencing. In fact, race and skin color are barely addressed in this book at all. Instead, Farmer explores ideas of personal, cultural, and spiritual identity with superf ...more
Feb 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Okay, I definitely expected more from this book.

1. Where was the mystery? I thought it would be some intense plot filled with true villains who wanted to overthrow the government, or a group of outsiders who want to take revenge against the general by kidnapping his kids. I have this thing called an imagination and I thought, judging from House of the Scorpions, Farmer would be throwing some twists and turns here.

2. As much as I liked the adventure, it was just too much. They encounter scenari
E.M. E-M
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
first book of 2008. what a remarkable position to hold...

i remember loving this book in middle school. still enjoyed it now, though recognized some new/questionable elements. generally good narrative and some very interesting characterizations of zimbabwe 2194. was particularly intrigued by the over-simplified but largely critical portrayal of the post-colonial race and class warfare of the southern African future... especially interesting was depiction of domestic workers and power relations i
Andrew Hudson
The three children of a broadly benign dictator, General Matsika, languish within the protected compound that is their home, forbidden from all but the most proscriptive exposure to the world outside for fear of offering their father's enemies an opportunity to kidnap or kill them, and lay him low.

Empathetic Tendai, his thorny sister Rita, and their young brother Kuda long for an unrestricted taste of the rich world beyond those walls: Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, where life is really lived - no
McKenna Colver
Tendai, his sister Rita, and his brother Kuda, against the wishes and warnings of their strict and influential parents, go out into the world away from their house so they can explore. Unfortunately, not long after they make it to the market, they are kidnapped and taken to the She Elephant, who plans to sell them to the Masks. To get their children back, Tendai's parents hire the help of three strange detectives whose powers came from the nuclear waste of the power plant near their village; the ...more
Nathan Ko
May 28, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 03, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I'm not quite in the mood for this book right now. I do want to finish it at some point soon.
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen, sci-fi, 2010, book-club
This is like 4 books in one. The first is the story of three kids, living a sheltered and rather boring life, who set off on a series of adventures. The second is a sci-fi look at what life might be like in a future Africa, with robots and mutants and mile high buildings. The third is a mystery with three unusual detectives searching for some kidnapped children. And the last book is a examination of what happens when modern people try to return to a traditionally tribal way of life. How much you ...more
This sat on my to-read shelf for a while, and it shouldn't have, because it's one of the best young adult novels I've read in a while. It's set in Zimbabwe in 2194, where the three children of the powerful General Matsika are forbidden to leave their home for fear of kidnapping. Longing to experience the outside world, the three children figure out how to get out...and disappear. Their parents call in an unusual set of detectives, three people whose unusual physical characteristics have been pro ...more
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So there is this show on the Travel Channel where this guy goes to exotic places and eats foods that would make most Americans barf, and he was in Madagascar eating bugs and antelope entrails and his wife, who travels with him, "got" to help the women do all the work of cooking this nasty-smelling stew and and serving the men while they sat on a blanket and told stories, and the show reminded me so much of the scene where Rita and Tendai eat their first meal in Resthaven that I had to go to the ...more
Nov 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no idea but newbery gave it honor props
Recommended to Jess by: Fantasy Syllabus
Tried of being trapped in a Zambabwe mansion by overprotective parents, Tendai (13), Rita (11), and Kuda (4) set out on an adventure for scouts. A kidnapping changes the path without ending the adventure while also involving dectectives Ear, Eye, and Arm.

I liked parts of it - like plastic being collectible - but loads of other stuff was eh.

The dad's overprotective nature came on too strong; I didn't need a comment made about both that and his hidden love for his children every single time he spo
Allison Parker
Aug 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Allison by: Thom
In a futuristic Zimbabwe, the three children of a high-ranking general sneak out of their sheltered, robot-managed lives for a trip across the city. But their plans change when they are captured and taken to strange places they never imagined existed outside of their plush house. The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, a detective team, are hired to find the child using their special abilities which came to them from their mothers' exposure to toxic waste while pregnant. Farmer creates truly fantastic Af ...more
Redd Becker
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ear, Eye and Arm is Tendai’s coming-of-age story. He leaves home with his younger siblings as a boy and returns a man. Each adventure the children encounter deftly weaves core human foibles and what can be learned from them into the plot: greed, power, laziness, unrestrained talk, retardation, childhood innocence.

Farmer writes in a more literary style than many books these days, but this tale was engaging. Encounters with interesting characters and compelling situations kept me reading.

Farmer cr
Manisha Gore
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, Farmer has a unique style. The first thing I noticed was the point of view. The book is narrated in the third person. The narrator knows all of the characters. However, the narrator is not constant- the point of view occasionally shifts to the viewpoint of ten year old Tendai, one of the Matsika children. Another interesting aspect of the author's style is the use of many themes. One of the most prominent of all would be the theme of discovering what the world i ...more
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenilia
In the 1000 or so pages of Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, there is one word choice that betrays the fact that he is writing for children. It occurs in "The Subtle Knife" as our heroes come upon a madman trying in vain to use the eponymous blade, who in his fumblings has thrown the room around him into disarray, and Pullman writes that the furnishings had been thrown about "higgledy-piggledy". This bad bit of diction is the sort that stops a reader cold. There's something so plai ...more
Diana Veras
This book is about three kids Rita, Tendai, and Kuda. THey keep running away because they each want to get explorer badges . Every-time they run away the detectives The Ear, The Eye, and the Arm have to recuse them. I didn't really like this book. IT goes from one plot to another which is very confusing. The beginning of the book was good but when it got to the middle an the end it got confusing and so boring.
Another reason I don't recommend this book is because of at the beginning it is talk
Raylee Gifford
This futuristic novel follows the story of 3 sheltered children in Africa. Their father is an important general and has kept them inside the gates to their home their entire lives for their protection. His children decide to go on a scouting trip one day and are kidnapped and forced to become slaves for the criminal the She-Elephant. After escaping the landfill where the She-Elephant lives they find themselves in an exclusive community that practices the ancient African law. They discover that t ...more
Michael Burnam-Fink
I loved this book back when I was a kid. Cyberpunkish scifi in 22nd century Zimbabwe, with heroic kids, mutant detectives, evil criminals. You can never really go back, so does this book hold up? Well, yes and no.

I didn't realize how much I'd appreciate the main character, Tendai, and his relationship with his younger siblings as he tries to protect them. The future African setting is also well-imagined; as a rising power and real nation that has reach an accord with the legacy of colonialism. F
Bethany Venus
Jun 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What was going to be an exciting adventure turns into a frightening journey when General Matsika's three children are kidnapped during and outing. The worried parents call in Africa’s greatest detectives – The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm, whose special abilities come from exposure to nuclear waste. The children seem to stay just out of reach as the detectives trace them to different locations in the underbelly of the city. Will the detectives be able to find the children before it is ultimately to ...more
Mar 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carter by: English Summer Reading
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Nancy was born in 1941 in Phoenix and grew up in a hotel on the Arizona-Mexico border where she worked the switchboard at the age of nine. She also found time to hang out in the old state prison and the hobo jungle along the banks of the Colorado River. She attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, earning her BA in 1963. Instead of taking a regular job, she joined the Peace Corps and was sent to ...more
More about Nancy Farmer...

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“That was the best kind of story: when the teller was as much under its spell as the listener.” 7 likes
“She took to reading with a fervor so extreme, Baba Joseph had to take the books from her hands by force. 'Your eyes are not tractors. They are not meant to pull heavy loads,' he said sternly.” 4 likes
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