Thursday, August 20, 2009

Introducing Andrew Peterson and the Wingreather Saga

For the next three days, tour bloggers (myself among them) will be focusing on Andrew Peterson's latest installment in his Wingfeather Saga, North! Or Be Eaten.

Peterson has a background as a singer/songwriter (and has several CDs available). His first published book is a middle grade story called The Ballad of Matthew's Begats, which is a ballad to help bridge the old Testament with the New, accommodating his background as a singer and songwriter. After that, he began the Wingfeather Saga, which has a Biblical/folklorish, classic fantasy feel since it begins with the origin of the Aerwiar world.

Since North! or be Eaten is the second book in the Wingfeather Saga, I couldn't possibly let you go these three days of Wingfeather trilogy discussion without a review of the first book, now could I? No, I couldn't.

Peterson, A. (2008). On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness introduces readers to twelve-year-old Janner and his younger brother and sister, Tink and Leeli. The three siblings leave their mother and grandfather (Janner's father died years before and until the day the book opens with, Janner didn't even know his father's name) to go into the town to attend the Dragon Day festival. Problems arises as group of Fangs, the Lizard soldiers who serve the evil king encounter Leeli and her dog, Nugget.

While Peterson has a lot of fun with language--I particularly like the name of the Gnag the Nameless. But I felt like this fun didn't go far enough. Take the title "the dark sea of darkness" as an example: campy fun.

I wanted to like this book. I really did, but small things prevented me from really getting into it. The narrative often jumped from point of view to point of view among the Igiby children or their mother or grandfather within the span of a few paragraphs. I had trouble keeping some of the characters straight, especially since the Igiby children's mother was called by her first name, Nia (instead of say, Mommy-dear). I felt like the idea of the missing Jewels of Anneira or the mysterious map Tink and Janner find needed to be presented earlier.

I read this book using the Kindle edition. I feel this book is probably more impressive on paper. I found the Kindle illustrations (particularly the maps) to be difficult to decipher.

Activities to do with the Book:

In response to the book, students could write journal entries in the voice of one of the supporting characters. They could create maps of their own neighborhood, town or of imagined places.

They could make predictions about what will happen in the rest of the series or about what happened previously to Peet the Sock Man.

Quotes of Note:

"The old stories tell that when the first person woke up on the first morning in the world where this tale takes place, he yawned, stretched, and said to the first thing he saw, "Well, here we are." The man's name was Dwayne, and the first thing he saw was a rock. Next to the rock, though, was a woman named Gladys, whom he would learn to get along with very well. In the many ages that followed, that first sentence was taught to children and their children's children and their children's parents' cousins and so on until, quite by accident, all speaking creatures referred to the world around them as Aerwair."

"What could possibly happen in just a few seconds?"

"Each stranger in Glipwood that day was a reminder to Janner that he had never, never left the town. They lit up his imagination and filled him with an ache to see the world."

"If anyone reads this without permission, he will be most certainly and brutally slain. Or at the very least I'll chop off a finger or two. Or three."

"I'm just saying there's a lot more to this little down than we thought. Our mother has a hidden stash of jewels that we didn't know about. Mister Reteep gets an Annieran journal in a crate from Dang. He has a hidden map. And some mysterious person with perfect aim saved our lives yesterday."

To find out more about Andrew Peterson and his books, you can check out his website, here or his blog, here. Also, be sure to find out what other bloggers have to say about North! Or Be Eaten:

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