IT’S ANOTHER EDITION OF MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY and a FEATURED REVIEW of RETURN OF THE EVENING STAR by DIANE RIOS
THE OFFICIAL PLOT: A mysterious hospital deep in the Oregon woods is sending marauding ambulances into the countryside, looking for new patients. Mowing down anything in their path, the deadly ambulance drivers have forced the people and animals of the land into hiding. Twelve-year-old Chloe Ashton has returned to Fairfax and is desperate to find her mother. Together with her friends—the magical cook Mrs. Goodweather, carpenter Brisco Knot, and clever white rat Shakespeare—she hatches a plan to enter the hospital and stop the bloodshed. At the same time a rumor reaches them from the east: Silas the Stargazer is coming, and he is bringing an army. An animal army.
MY CRITIQUE: The sequel to the critically acclaimed BRIDGE OF THE GODS stands well on it’s own. The author does a superb job filling in what led to this Oregon town and young Chloe Ashton into such a dire situation. While book one left many dangling plot points, book two covers them all and delivers the results in a glorious climatic finish.
The prologue sets the stage: a conversation between constellations Cygnus and Scorpius about the dangers coming to Earth. From there the story is sure to challenge young readers. With many characters, both human and animal, along with a plot that emerges in different locales, this tale takes full concentration. The overriding theme is how everything and everyone in nature is connected. We need each other to survive.
The animals are portrayed in all their majestic beauty from the silver horses to King Auberon, a gigantic bear. They are rightfully skeptical of working with humans given what they know, but there are unique individuals like Chloe who has a gift of speaking to them with understanding. Her love of creatures and natures shines through to the end.
Find a quiet spot this summer, preferably outside, and escape into a fantasy with a mythical quality found in very few middle grade books.
PUBLISHED: 2019 PAGE COUNT: 256
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:
- You know you have a great character when after finishing the book I hoped Chloe would return in another story. Her upcoming years hold many plot possibilities.
- Rebuilding a bridge, the Bridge of the Gods, was the perfect way to show how this one task could help heal the rift between animals and humans.
- Magic is all around us. Not in our phones, but in nature and the world. We just need to stop once in awhile to listen and look.
- Chloe’s love for her mother and the home she once had was touching. She also has many friends from the past who come to help.
- I’m not a big fan of rats but darling Shakespeare had me liking them a bit more.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning author and illustrator Diane Rios lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Her debut novel, Bridge of the Gods, won the 2017 silver Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for Pre-Teen Fantasy, was a finalist for the USA Best Book Award in Children’s Fiction, and was a finalist for a 2017 Oregon Book Award for Children’s Literature. A long-time Oregon artist and musician, Rios wrote and illustrated the picture book Dizzy’s Dream. Rios spent three years working at the world’s largest independent bookstore, Powell’s Books in Portland, where she greatly increased her own children’s book collection and was inspired to write the Silver Mountain Series.
I received a copy of this book from SHE WRITES PRESS
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