So imagine if you will Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men hiding out in Sherwood Forest. Now replace that image with a feisty band of young girls adept in woodcraft, hunting, disguise and escape. This is the group that young Gabriel a naïve and inexperienced novice monk encounters when he is forced to flee his monastery.
When Gabe finds Brother Benedict beaten and bloody and is given a mysterious precious book to keep safe, he is completely at a loss as to what he should do. Strange things are happening in the cloisters of the only home he has known since he was left on the step, a foundling. The Abbott appears to be ill, the Prior is consorting with sinister knights and there are rumours of the Sheriff’s dishonesty.
Taking the advice of Brother Malachy, Gabe flees to the woods where he narrowly escapes capture by the Lord’s men but is rescued by a band of outlaws. These are no ordinary outlaws though. Gwyn, Merry, Scarlett and Midge are all for various reasons living in the woods completely concealed from the outside world. They survive by their wits and their skills and agree to help Gabe in return for his help.
These are Mighty Girls indeed, undaunted by any obstacle or difficulty and ready to stand and defend not only their own rights but those of others.
A wrongfully imprisoned father, a substituted royal prince, nefarious dealings between lords and church all combine to make this one absolutely top-notch adventure. It will appeal to both boys and girls and they will no doubt not only embrace it but be eager for more.
Highly recommended for readers from around eight years upwards.
I am an unashamed devotee of books with mouse characters – Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, The Tale of Desperaux, Mouse Mansion, Stuart Little, The Churchmice and of course the Redwall series – so this newly discovered title was a complete delight to me.
Mouseheart is the first in an ongoing series by Lisa Fiedler, who has written several children’s novels.
Set under Brooklyn in a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels and forgotten human debris, an explosive and epic battle rages between species.
Hopper is an ordinary pet shop mouse or so it seems. When he and his siblings are faced by becoming a pet python’s breakfast they mount an escape which leads to them all separately finding their way underground to the scene of this conflict.
Along the way, Hopper is caught up in the schemes and subterfuges of the ruling Romanus rats who themselves are dominated by cats who outwardly appear to be ‘tamed’ and then snared in the crossfire between these and the Müs led by the mysterious La Rocha. There is a very eerie parallel to the Holocaust in the actions of the despotic Titus, Emperor of Romanus which is compelling and awful.
Far from being just an ordinary rodent, Hopper discovers both his heritage and his destiny and is transformed from a nervous and naive youngster into a clever and capable warrior.
This strongly appeals to me with its glorious characters and intricate backstory and plot so reminiscent of the epic Redwall series.
Proving that courage is worth more than deceit, Hopper is a hero worth sharing with your readers of middle school age. As Gandalf would say “I’ve found it is the small things, everyday deedsof ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.”
Read more about the series and listen to an audio excerpt at Fiedler’s website.
Highly recommended for your lovers of stirring adventures and the quest to best the doers of evil.