Peterson, A. (2009). North! or Be Eaten. Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press.
Weeks have passed since the end of the events of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. The Igiby children are drilled each day to be prepared for danger. With the approach of autumn, the family prepares to leave the safety of their hiding spot to travel north in the hopes of finding distant relatives and allies who will help them to avoid the evil despot, Gnag the Nameless. With a warning from a friend they had thought dead and a marching band of Fangs, the Igibys must flee sooner than expected and encounter danger after danger during their escape to the North.
While I have to admit, I wouldn't call myself a fan of this series, I did like that North! or Be Eaten began with a much faster pace as the Igibys encountered danger after threat after beastie after danger after avoiding capture after DANGER after actually being captured after more danger and threats during their flight North. The Igiby family makes many new friends along their journey and encounter many new enemies as the children struggle to understand their new roles and future jobs. Tink struggles the most, unsure if he can handle the responsibility that comes with being the second born.
A religious subtext was more noticeable in this book than in the last one, with an ancient book being translated that reveals a way to reclaim a city with a possible link to the Maker and a past of holiness. A teacher could use this aspect of the text to discuss allegory or the history of Israel.
One drawback to the series overall (and something Peterson has no control over what so ever), is the amount of text on each page.
Crud. The picture doesn't really seem to capture the amount of text the way I'd hoped it would. Fail. But believe me when I say, I first opened my copy of the book and went "Whoa!" Some could accuse me of being too used to the big font of other children's books. But I would argue this book has more text per a page than many of my rambling literary theory books from the library. Truth!
I could see a middle grade student being VERY intimidated by this.
To help ease a child in, a teacher or parent could begin the book as a read aloud or remind the child that the chapters are relatively short and there is the occasional illustration. But at the end of the day, I'd rather read a 500 page book and feel like I'm making more progress by flipping pages than sitting on one page for 10 minutes. (I know that'd mean more paper and would make the book more expensive and I would like to say sorry to the trees of the world and that, in my defense, I have invested in a Kindle)
Activities to Do with the Book:
Students could focus in on the way Peterson attempts to build a complete world and culture (focusing in on the information included in the footnotes). A teacher could guide them into a conversation about how so many sayings, activities, celebrations are hinged on insider knowledge of a culture.
Quotes of Note:
"Toothy Cow!" bellowed Podo as he whacked a stick against the nearest glipwood tree. The old pirate's eyes blazed, and he stood at the base of the tree like a ship's captain at the mast. "Toothy cow! Quick! Into the tree house!"
Not far away, an arrow whizzed through some hanging moss and thudded into a plank of wood decorated with a charcoal drawing of a snarling Fang. The arrow protruded from the Fang's mouth, the shaft still vibrating from the impact. Tink lowered his bow, squinted to see if he had hit the target, and completely ignored his grandfather.
"Tooooothy--oy! That's a fine shot, lad--Cow!" (p. 1).
"Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs of Dang still terrorized the land of Skree, and the shadow they cast covered more of Aerwiar with every passing day. It was only a matter of time before that shadow fell again on the Igibys" (p. 4).
"What were you doing back there? All day we've been in danger, but you keep standing around! Is this a game to you?" (p. 51).
"I'll know better once I've had more time to translate. But if there is a chamber, if there is some secret there that can protect Anniera..." Oskar looked over his spectacles at Janner. "That could be the reason your father risked his life to get you this book" (p. 132).
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:
The 160 Acre Woods, A Christian Worldview of Fiction, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Booking Mama, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Fireside Musings, Homeschool Book Buzz, KidzBookBuzz.com, My Own Little Corner of the World, My utopia, Novel Teen, Olive Tree, Reading is My Superpower, Through a Child’s Eye