“Rabbits with swords” – it’s an irresistible combination, and all I had to say to get my two oldest daughters to beg me to start reading.
As you might expect of a sword epic, this has a feudal feel, with rabbit lords and ladies, and noble rabbit knights and, of course, villainous wolves. This is children’s fiction, intended for preteens and up, so naturally the heroes are children too.
The story begins with siblings Pickett and Heather being torn from the only home they’ve known, pursued by wolves, and separated from their parents and baby brother. It’s this last detail that might warrant some caution as to how appropriate this would be for the very young. It isn’t clear if mom, dad and baby Jack are dead…but it seems like that might well be, and that could be a bit much for the very young (I’m planning on skipping over that bit when I get to it with my preschool daughters). They escape to a community that is hidden away from the ravaging wolves, made up of exiles, rabbits that once lived in the Great Wood. Their former and peaceful realm fell to the wolves after it was betrayed from within, so now these rabbits in exile look forward to a time when the Great Wood will be restored. Or as one of the wisest of these rabbits puts it,
…we anticipate the Mended Wood, the Great Wood healed…. We sing about it. We paint it. We make crutches and soups and have gardens and weddings and babies. This is a place out of time. A window into the past and the future world.Though God is never mentioned, and the rabbits have no religious observance of any kind, author S.D. Smith’s Christian worldview comes through in passages like this, that parallel the way we can recall a perfect past, and look forward to a perfected future. It’s this depth that makes this more than just a rollicking tale of rabbits in peril.
The only downside to the book is that we’ll have to wait until April 2016 for the sequel. There is prequel, The Black Star of Kingston that is also good, but very short – at 152 pages and a smaller page size it has maybe a quarter of the content of The Green Ember.
So, my overall take is two very enthusiastic thumbs up for anyone ten and up. To buy from Amazon click here for The Green Ember and for The Black Star of Kingston.