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Below the Root (Green Sky #1)

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  773 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Raamo, at thirteen, had rarely doubted the wisdom of the Ol-zhaan, the unquestioned rulers of the Green-Sky planet. Yet, after he had been chosen to become an Ol-zhaan, he made surprising discoveries and was exposed to dangers different form any he had envisioned. The world of Green-Sky was not what he and the Kindar people had thought. This science fiction fantasy was fir ...more
Paperback, 231 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by (first published 1975)
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mark monday
Dec 29, 2015 mark monday rated it liked it
a little bird, a little boy, flitting through the trees; thrust upon him is a mantle of authority. to flit no more! roles taken to provide meaning, shelter, a shield: the world of Green Sky. denizens: beware of what lies below the root: there be dragons! or knowledge. or the past, a history buried. or an underclass, perhaps, striving to meet the sky!

a children's classic, of sorts. first published in 1975. shades of The Giver. a simple tale of friendship and growing up. a complex tale of myths an
Dec 05, 2007 Wendy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to take a fantastic journey in youth.
This is the first book in The Greensky trilogy that just absolutely made my mind soar as a child and can still touch my heart as an adult.

A group of people inhabit the tree tops called Kindar. They are vegetarians and float from branch to branch using glider packs called Shubas. Some are gifted with powers. The power of teleportation and telekenesis (called kiniport in the books), the power to make trees grow (called grunsprek), and the power to read minds (called pensing). These children are u
Feb 01, 2011 Nicholas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This was the first book I ever checked out of the Library. I picked it up purely for the cover, and fell deeply in love with it. A couple of years later I got the Windham Classics video game as a birthday gift, and fell in love with the world all over again, but I came to it already loving the world of Green-Sky.

[Review contains minor to significant spoilers!]

Some people reviewing this book and its sequels recently have criticized their originality and called out their trope of human colonists l
J L's Bibliomania
Rereading a beloved childhood favorite as an adult is always risky.

I read Below the Root by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and its sequels over and over and over again as a voracious young SF lover in the early 80’s (and surprisingly was oblivious to the computer game based on the same world). At the time, I was fascinated by the ability of Raamo to read minds, or at least emotions, and swept along by the idea of gliding through the treetops. I was totally immersed in the immediate events and not too con
Sarah Jacquie
Jan 06, 2010 Sarah Jacquie rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with the world of Green Sky when I was only 3 years old. Sounds preposterous, but it's true. I sat watching my dad play the Commodore game by Windham Classics for hours, and hours. By the time I was 4-5 I could beat it myself by memory - but I always would call him at work if I forgot how to load the game (Load "*", 8, 1) hahaha.

When I was old enough, my mom told me the game was based on a trilogy - and so it began.

These will always be my favorite books, period. It even beat out
Kristi Thompson
Mar 13, 2009 Kristi Thompson rated it really liked it
The Zilpha Keatly Snyder went up the waterspout....
Just had to get that out of my system

Bought Below the Root and And All Between for Madison from the used bookshop in Napanee over Christmas, and reread them both while I was there. Wish they'd had Until the Celebration; the trilogy needs an ending.

I can't have been much older than Madison when I read them last. 20 years ago? I remembered them vividly. I was a little surprised to find out that they read very much like my memories of them. Often
Jul 12, 2014 Rose rated it really liked it
I'm assuming the target audience for this book is the 10 to 13 year olds but it is good enough to be enjoyed by adults.

I hate to call it sweet, but for a large part that is exactly what it was. Raamo and his people live a peaceful, joyous life in the trees and a lot of the book was the descriptions of this life. It wasn't until we were a fair bit into it that we learned that all wasn't as it seemed with this peaceful existence.

This can't really be read as a stand alone - the story just basicall
Mar 09, 2014 Attila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Read it when I was 13 or so (I think this was the first "serious" book I have read in the English language), then re-read it five years later and found that it did not lose any of its magic. It is about people who live in tree tops on a planet with low gravity and giant trees, with houses and other buildings on the branches. It is a utopian (or rather dystopian?) society led by clerics, where violence and anger is unheard of, more or less as a result of indoctrination.

There are stories of fearso
As a child, this was one of my favorite books. I checked it out several times from the library and knew exactly where it was on the shelf. It's been many years but I still remember the story and think of it when I'm laying in filtered sunshine wondering what it would be like to only get sunshine "below the root".
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I remember reading this when it first came out. I loved it--my teachers hated it. I really wanted to do a book report presentation on it in speech class, and my teacher really, really didn't want me to--I remember she kept interrupting and criticising to the place I was ready to just quit talking and sit down. At the time I thought it was me; now I think maybe it was the book.

Reading it now at over 50, I can see where the off-the-grid vegetarian Utopian society thing would have upset that partic
Jul 20, 2015 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this book or this series or even this author until a good friend of mine mentioned doing her zillionth re-read of this beloved piece of her childhood. Since of course I needed to understand her book love, she loaned me this first volume and I settled in for a discovery.

I despaired, at first, because it took me a while to get into this. Snyder makes no apologies about her world-building, which is great in the sense that it's very solid and detailed world-building and frustrat
Jul 19, 2008 Jlawrence rated it it was ok
I've wanted to read this book for awhile because I had played (but never got very in) the intriguing 8-bit computer game that's based on it. Sadly, seems even just bungling around in that game was a better experience than reading its source material.

The world Synder sets up is interesting enough - a science fantasy dealing with a society that lives in giant trees (think somewhere between Ewok and Elvish sophistication of arboreal house-making and living), a society split into the Kindar who glid
Jun 05, 2016 Carly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
I just reread this, the first book in an awesome fantasy trilogy for children or young adults. It surprises me that this trilogy has never been that well-known or popular. It deals with serious themes: how a society might choose to rebuild after war and chaos; what happens when a corrupt government exists to sustain itself; how the average person will cling to the status quo, even if that means turning a blind eye to evil actions. There are similarities to The Giver, but this trilogy preceded Th ...more
I enjoyed this beautiful world and these interesting characters :)
May 10, 2017 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story

This is a fun story! I loved the computer game back in the 80s and always thought it should be a book. I just discovered it was actually part of a series. If you like fantasy, you will love this book !
Oct 30, 2012 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children who might find current YA dystopia too graphic
For the first half of this book, I would have called it "hippie dystopia." The "Make Love Not War" message came on a bit too strong at times (Did she really need to mention the need for temporary sterility in the youth halls? And does "close communion" mean what I think it means?), but like most dystopian societies (and cults) the happy world of Green Sky is not as joyful as it seems.

Like many others I played the video game (on my grandmother's Apple II) and love the treetop world of Green Sky.
Sami Privitor
"But there was nothing ordinary about any of the circumstances in which Raamo found himself, and a short terrifying drop into almost total darkness seemed, at the moment, only a natural part of a completely unnatural whole."

Below the Root is a dystopia in a fantasy setting, and can best be summed up as "The Giver meets James Cameron's Avatar." Of course, Below the Root predates The Giver by about 2 decades, having been written in the 1970s, and I can't help but wonder if it influenced it.

The wri
Mar 29, 2008 Sus rated it liked it
Like a lot of other people (or so it seems from these reviews!), I played and loved the "Below the Root" video game when I was young. I had never read the books; when I looked them up recently, I was excited to realize that they were written by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, a young-adult writer who I remember having creeped me as a child with such subtle and unsettling books as _The Headless Cupid_ and _The Eyes In the Fishbowl_.

I've found it both delightful and weird to read _Below the Root_ for the
Jan 21, 2015 Magali rated it it was ok
Two stars, which is generous. (Strange, because I remember liking The Egypt Game; Snyder missed the mark here, though, badly.) Despite presenting the reader with an interesting world and some potentially fascinating philosophical questions, this book was SO BORING until the last forty pages, in which everything happens. Beyond the major pacing problems, there was the classic issue of telling-not-showing. I had buckets full of unnecessary background information dumped over me like cold water ever ...more
This is an enjoyable, if at times somewhat obvious, fantasy novel. It concerns the denizens of a place known as Green Sky. The planet seems to be largely rainforest, and a society of human-like beings known as the Kindar live in the canopy. The Kindar have a utopian society, where it is taboo to speak of or show anger, and where the concept of violence is almost unheard of. The only fear they hold is of the fearsome Pash-shan, creatures that live below the forest floor, where they are trapped by ...more
Jul 04, 2012 Kiwi rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
My friend handed me this book and told me I HAD to read it. I'm glad she did. Fantasy is my old comfort zone from youth so it is still the genre I take on when I want to snug into a well-worn old cloak. (: This book (and I imagine series) can be added into that list.

I love trees and the idea of living in trees, so that was a big plus. The idea of lesser gravity and larger plants was incredibly appealing, as was the idea of these humans who could glide around in the treetops. I loved the focus on
Mar 09, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book as a kid. A substitute librarian in our town library pointed the trilogy out to me, and I remember checking it out of the library over and over again. Now with 2 kids ages 4 and 6, I sometimes tell them bedtime stories about the people who live in trees, describing how they glide from branch to branch. I still find the idea of living in enormous trees simply magical! So, after months of telling the kids these stories based on the books, I ordered a set of the books from Alibris ...more
Jul 23, 2007 Mary-Beth rated it liked it
The first book in this trilogy which is about two groups of people divided by their lifestyles. One group inhabits the trees and another lives underground below The Root.

The beings inhabiting the trees are the ones we're concerned with here. A young man is chosen for the elite priesthood of these people and he begins to see the corruption that had occurred among his people. They are well-meaning, intending to eliminate violence from their society, however, they have eliminating all original thou
Mar 17, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing
Those suffering from “Hunger Games” withdrawal might find some relief in Green-sky. Snyder creates a futuristic world in which the Kindar live and glide among the trees, never touching the forest floor for fear of the dreaded Pash-shan. Except for this one thing, life is Peaceful and Joyous due to the fact that Earth’s violence has been systematically forgotten over the centuries. But, what are the Pash-shan, really? Is it a good thing to keep everyone in the dark about their origin? Is the vine ...more
Dec 07, 2011 Wendy rated it liked it
Apparently the popularity of this book and its sequels were attributed to some old school video game. It was recommended to me by a website I can no longer find. Someone did an extensive listing of mostly fantasy books from The Hobbit to current series circa 2000ish.
It took me years to find and buy them.
So I am saddened to say, I although I enjoyed the first book. (Below the Root, I found the rest of the series And All Between (Green Sky, #2) Until the Celebration (Green Sky, #3) grew tedious by
Jun 29, 2011 Debbie rated it really liked it
I recently reread this after having read it in junior high. I'd played the Windham Classics game on my C64 often and enjoyed how the game picked up the story's feel without entirely duplicating the plot.

My revisit was not disappointing. Snyder creates an excellent utopia in this novel, which is just beginning to unravel at the end of the novel. I like the characters, even the ones of questionable motives, because they're all vulnerable in some ways. Green-Sky is a place I'd like to live, even t
Jan 22, 2009 Liz rated it really liked it
This book was the basis for a computer game that I played when I was young. Since I was young and didn't fully understand the game, when I found out it was based on a book, I was excited to read it. The book is about two different groups of beings... the ones that lived entirely above ground in giant trees and the ones that lived underground - below the roots. It was an easy read with interesting ties to what could happen when a society's past is covered up. The ending was optimistic, but defini ...more
Diana Welsch
Jun 19, 2009 Diana Welsch rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I read this because the setting, which is a green-skied planet with low gravity where people are small and birdlike and live in trees, appealed to me. Everyone wears a batwing-like garment that allows them to glide gently from branch to branch. It was like living in Myst, only not exactly Myst, but the crazy tree-world in the third Myst game.

It was a nice escape. The plot was reminiscent of [Book: The Giver] but without the bleak ending. I was hoping that Raamo would find out that ALL of his soc
"Negative emotions are banned, and the government controls resource distribution" could just about be the elevator speech for a modern YA dystopia--but Snyder does it decades earlier, and better. Characterization and motivation are subtly nuanced, and there's enough worldbuilding peeking out behind the edges here to fill an SF doorstopper saga. I was pleasantly surprised with how well this held up to adult reading, and also by the charming illustrations, which I don't think were included in the ...more
Apr 06, 2007 Chris rated it it was ok
I only read this because, as a child, I was obsessed with the video game made for the Commodore 64 by Windham Classics. Anyone remember it? Anyway, the game was enganging and subtle, with a huge world and non-linear game-play that was grounbreaking for the time. I never even knew there was a book until I was in my 20s, and perhaps I would have liked it more if I had read it as a child. The book was of the same style of 70s fantasy as the animated movie "Wizards" - preachy, obvious, and filled wi ...more
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The recipient of three Newbery Honor Book awards for "The Egypt Game," "The Headless Cupid," and "The Witches of Worm," Zilpha Keatley Snyder began writing books for children in 1964 when her first book, "A Season of Ponies," was published. Over the course of the career she completed 43 books, mostly for children aged 9 to 13, but also including two books for young adults, four picture books for y ...more
More about Zilpha Keatley Snyder...

Other Books in the Series

Green Sky (3 books)
  • And All Between (Green Sky, #2)
  • Until the Celebration (Green Sky, #3)

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“Forest is and was and will be. Root and roof and all between. Pan-fruit feed me, nid-bough hold me, Peace and Joy be ever green.” 0 likes
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