One of my favorite reads this year has been S.D. Smith’s The Green Ember, and I had to share my review with you. If you have young children and are looking for your next read-aloud, look no further.
This is a wonderful story full of adventure, friendship, betrayal, and redemption. That the characters are Rabbits only adds to the delight, and the pacing sweeps you into a worthwhile tale not to be soon forgotten.
Picket and Heather, a brother and sister who live in a peaceful wood, are beginning to learn about their family history in their Father’s bedtime tales. But when their home suffers a perilous attack from wolves, their family is separated. Heather and Picket have to fight for their lives, and soon they are guided to a safe warren. Here they gain loyal friends, but also more than a few cold skeptics.
While finding their place in the community, Heather and Picket’s family connections add to the rising tension in the warren. Rumors of a coming attack from the wolves, the unsettled longing for King Jupiter’s heir to rise, and the whole community’s yearning for their true home all collide into a test of loyalty and character.
Some of my favorite characters and imagery included Heather the budding Storyteller, Smalls, the Gardens, Maggie O’Sage, “The Mended Wood,” the stained glass windows(!!), Uncle Wilfred’s faithfulness, Emma’s journey to becoming a doctor, and of course the flaming crown jewel, the Green Ember. I also love the importance placed on craftsmanship, the necessity of art, and everyone’s skill having weight within the community. (And I hope we get better acquainted with Picket and Heather’s parents in a future book!) The whole book is a gem I can’t wait to share with my children someday.
The styling, character arcs, pacing, and imagery are all artful and compelling. Beautiful scenes of home, purpose in one’s work, and loyalty are deepened by the honest depictions of exile, the consequences of treachery, bitterness, and fighting for one’s home. Not only a book of action, it’s a thought-provoking tale that glories in the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Listening to the audiobook I missed the illustrations, so I loved getting to linger over them when I got my hard copy. Zach Franzen has done a lovely job with this book, and I’ve so enjoyed learning from him, especially in this article.
Directed to middle-grade readers, it’s a book the whole family will enjoy as a read-aloud. Having just finished the audiobook, I’m already starting it again to better savor the details and characters I love.
You can find copies of this delightful book in paperback and softcover at Story Warren Store. Edit: And the Kindle version of the prequel, The Black Star of Kingston, is free today! (I’m in no way compensated for this review; it’s purely for sharing the delight.)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars