Reading David Almond's novels Skellig and Kit's Wilderness were such amazing experiences, I had very high expectations for Mouse Bird Snake Wolf, espe...moreReading David Almond's novels Skellig and Kit's Wilderness were such amazing experiences, I had very high expectations for Mouse Bird Snake Wolf, especially adding Dave McKean's art to the mix. The book is a beautifully illustrated fable/fantasy, but might be a bit disturbing and scary for younger readers. Almond leaves a lot of questions unanswered, which is one of the hallmarks of his books, along with not shying away from sometimes being disturbing. Yet at the end, young readers may not sure about some of the things they probably need to be sure about in order to enjoy and better understand the story. (less)
You'll see several negative reviews for this book. Here's what you should know about it:
The story is told from two different viewpoints from two diffe...moreYou'll see several negative reviews for this book. Here's what you should know about it:
The story is told from two different viewpoints from two different worlds, one of them with some strange vocabulary. (You can look these weird words up in the glossary in the back of the book.)
The book is challenging, with important parallels in both worlds. Keeping these straight is essential to enjoying the story.
In the midst of a story taking place on two different worlds, Schmidt touches on some heavy issues such as bullying, the death of a parent, and much more.
If all of this sounds like too much work, then this book is not for you. It's meant to challenge kids and it does. Schmidt is a smart writer and is not going to lead you by the hand. He does, however, give you a really good story with interesting characters that we care about. Recommended for kids (and adults) who get bored with the same old same old. (less)
Probably closer to 3.5 stars. A nice choice for kids (a little on the young side of J-Fic) who want a story that's a little scary, but not too much. T...moreProbably closer to 3.5 stars. A nice choice for kids (a little on the young side of J-Fic) who want a story that's a little scary, but not too much. Too many talking cats for me, but they probably take some of the scary edge off for kids. (less)
Here's another* case of an author writing a novel that appeals more to parents than to kids. On the Blue Comet is a children's novel set in the Great...moreHere's another* case of an author writing a novel that appeals more to parents than to kids. On the Blue Comet is a children's novel set in the Great Depression involving trains, famous historical figures, time travel and the consequences of changing the past. I can show you plenty of kids who might be interested in reading about time travel and some that might be interested in trains, but if they're interested in having those topics appear in their fiction, they probably won't care too much about historical figures they've never heard of or the Great Depression.
The sad part is doesn't even need manipulated historical characters or the backdrop of the Great Depression. The train/time travel story could've (should've) been enough to sell the story. Historical characters kids neither know nor care about just get in the way and setting the story during the Great Depression is too obvious a way to draw parallels to our current economic situation. Again, all of which is too bad, because the basic story is good and the illustrations are excellent.
* I see this mainly in children's picture books that celebrate the lives of famous personalities from the 1960s. These books are for the parents; why would any child enjoying picture books care about a rock star or movie icon who was alive 40+ years ago? This is insane. (less)
This book comes oh-so close to shooting itself in the foot early and often by dumping an ENORMOUS amount of backstory for the first 30+ pages. I almos...moreThis book comes oh-so close to shooting itself in the foot early and often by dumping an ENORMOUS amount of backstory for the first 30+ pages. I almost put it down, but kept on and am glad I did. Sure, you'll find plenty of the usual high fantasy tropes here, but kids reading fantasy for the first (or even second or third) time won't know that or care about it. Once the story DOES get going, it's very compelling. What Flanagan does that separates him from other J fantasy writers is make the reader actually feel what it's like to learn to wield a sword, shoot a bow and arrow, move by stealth among the shadows and much more. I will try the next book, but really hope he's fixed the backstory problem.... (less)
As an adult reader, I really liked this book. Recommending it for kids, however, presents something of a problem...
First of all, our library system ha...moreAs an adult reader, I really liked this book. Recommending it for kids, however, presents something of a problem...
First of all, our library system has this book in the J (juvenile) area, which is where it belongs as far as content suitability, i.e., no sex, very limited romantic elements, no profanity, etc. Yet the style of writing/language is probably more geared toward the upper end of the J section, approaching YA.
Also, readers should be aware that the story is based on Norse mythology, although you don't really need to know anything about Norse mythology to enjoy it. While it might seem to fit into the fantasy genre, it really belongs in the historical fiction category; we just normally tend to place Norse tales in fantasy rather than historical categories. I'd make the argument for historical in this case.
This is a book for older J readers, and patient ones at that. The book contains large sections of reflection and inner thoughts, sections which are quite good and necessary. Just understand that you're not going to get lots of battle scenes in this book (although you will get some).
The ending is also rather unusual and might not be satisfying to younger readers. Kids who really like to get inside their fiction and think through the world that's been created and the characters inside that world will probably really get into Icefall.