Logan's Reviews > Urchin of the Riding Stars

Urchin of the Riding Stars by M.I. McAllister
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Oct 04, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: hero-adventure, speculative-fiction, animal-but-not-cat, own
Read from October 24 to November 15, 2011

I don't think Logan is ready for the Redwall books (too intense), but this was a good in-between series. And what kid-who-adores-Reepicheep could resist a swashbuckling squirrel? (He laughs with delight when I even say the phrase "swashbuckling squirrel.") There were a couple of things that were a bit difficult. The first scene is Urchin's mother giving birth to him and dying alone on the beach, which wasn't glossed over quickly enough for me. And the main evil character, who is crazy, has a recurring nightmare/waking vision of his murdered victim coming after him, which scared Logan. I explained that it was just a vision or nightmare, but I don't think that made it less real for L. Other than that, this was tailor made for L: A youngster (in this case a squirrel) longs to do something heroic, but doesn't think he can. Enter a mentor or two (two captains; a squirrel & an otter) who can help him to draw on his inner resources and provide excellent examples. Throw in a prophecy, a mission, and a despicable and sometimes ridiculous enemy and you have an adventure where the good guys win and Logan's cup is filled. Sounds pretty formulaic, but I actually enjoyed this book myself. The dialog is pretty readable and we both loved Captains Crispin & Padra. It was nice that none of the characters are carnivores, so I didn't have to read so much about killing dinner (which gets rather old in the Warrior series). Yes, hedgehogs are insectivores, but somehow killing a worm doesn't gross me out the way killing a bird does. And I especially enjoyed that you can't tell which characters are good or bad by looking at them. So often, a whole species or race is "bad" or "good," which not only eliminates some of the mystery of a story, but isn't realistic or the way I want to view the world. I liked that there are evil squirrels and good squirrels and you have to get to know them to know which is which. Also, I liked that sometimes, animals evolve from being bad to good.
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01/18 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Katharine (new) - added it

Katharine This looks adorable. Have you tried mouseguard? It's a comic book series kinda like Redwall.


Bluelily3 Um... I thought this one was a bit more violent than Redwall in some respects. I've read most of the Redwall books, (when I was a kid) but this one horrified me a bit, even now that I'm an adult. Don't get me wrong, I love it. But I don't recall baby killing in Redwall. While there may be less violence in here than Redwall, the disturbing factor is a little higher... I don't know, depends on your kid I guess. You know him well enough. ;)


Logan Bluelily3 wrote: "Um... I thought this one was a bit more violent than Redwall in some respects. I've read most of the Redwall books, (when I was a kid) but this one horrified me a bit, even now that I'm an adult. D..."

I haven't actually read the Redwall books. It was another mom who told me they were more intense. I guess I'll pre-read one. In the Redwall books, are whole species good or bad? Or is there moral variation within a species?


message 4: by Logan (last edited Jan 19, 2017 06:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Logan Logan wrote: "Bluelily3 wrote: "Um... I thought this one was a bit more violent than Redwall in some respects. I've read most of the Redwall books, (when I was a kid) but this one horrified me a bit, even now th..."

We have since read the first Redwall book, and I agree it isn't quite as intense in terms of the actions, although my experience with my kid and my own childhood is that the death of children affects me a whole lot more as an adult than it did when I was a kid. What is different about Redwall (which neither of us liked) is that the evil characters are really, entirely, irredeemably evil. The rats were terrifying. And they are all one species, which reduces plot tension and pushes forward the idea that you can judge folks by how they look. Enter a rat? Well, you know what's going to happen next. And you know that a rat is never going to evolve or learn or perhaps have a revelation that what he's doing is wrong. I loved that in the Urchin books, there is tension about whether a character is good or bad; you have to worry that one might be covering up something. But also, a character doing bad things might be mentally ill or might be able to be redeemed at some point. So much more real and interesting. We opted not to read beyond the first Redwall book and it was a slog to get to the end of that one.


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