By S. D. Smith Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Reviewed by Natalie 4.5/5 stars
Heather and Picket, two young rabbits with ordinary lives, are suddenly thrust into a thrilling adventure when evil wolves attack them and their family, leaving Heather and Picket alone and wondering if their parents and baby brother are still alive. In their desperate attempt to escape the wolves, they encounter their uncle and his ward, Smalls, who lead the brother and sister to safety among a rabbit community committed to fighting and defeating the wolves and hawks.
Although safe in this community, Heather and Picket discover mystery and betrayal woven into their family history, particularly involving the past and future king of the rabbits. Heather and Picket must both conquer their own fears and learn courage in the face of extreme difficulty.
S. D. Smith cleverly places a story of natural predators versus prey in a fantasy setting. I found myself thinking of Lord of the Rings quite a bit as I read this to my 5-year-old and 3-year-old. And despite this being a middle grade chapter book, they enjoyed the story and understood the plot well. In comparison to Lord of the Rings, the main characters go on a journey, live in a community that seems elvish in nature, dramatically discover the future king, and fight in a great battle that could lead to the entire annihilation of the rabbit population.
There’s nothing objectionable or concerning about this book, and it would be a great introduction to fantasy lit for young readers. The reason I gave it 4.5 stars is sometimes the author mixes archaic and modern language. Young kids probably wouldn’t notice, but it threw me off some when I read it aloud. And for anyone concerned about the merits of reading fantasy stories (particularly those involving magic), here’s a great article on “Enchanting Children.”
“The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity.’ By putting bread, gold, horse, apple, or the very roads into a myth, we do not retreat from reality: we rediscover it.”
Overall, The Green Ember achieves its goal of inspiring bravery and courage despite adversity and seemingly insurmountable odds. With Christmas fast approaching, I’ll be putting the second book in the series, Ember Falls, under the tree.
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