Monday 26 September 2016

#ReviewMonday with KM Lockwood: The Rising written by Tom Moorhouse, with illustrations by Simon Mendez

We are River Singers, Water Folk, children of Sinethis. We live by her ways. She takes our old and gives us young. She stirs our hunger; feeds us with grasses She shelters us in her waters and burrows. She rises and dashes us. She sings with us a song as soft as thistles, hard as roots, deep as shadows, old as stones. We singer her a song as quick as thinking, sweet as apples, brief as day. We are River Singers, and we are hers. 
‘This,’ said Strife loudly, as she followed her sister through the tunnels,’ is just typical, isn’t it? Just as we’re old enough to be out on our own, Mother limits us to mornings and evenings. Don’t you think it’s typical? I do.’ 
Ivy ignored her. Kale, walking behind, also said nothing. But in his case that was not unusual. 
‘I mean,’ Strife continued, ‘I know Mother doesn’t want us out in the middle of the day, what with the rain and everything but it’s not like we’re pups anymore, is it? I’m sure I could cope with a bit of drizzle now and again.’ 
Published by Oxford University Press July 2015 
256 pages in paperback with 100+ black and white illustrations 
Summary from author’s own website 
When their uncle Sylvan pays an unexpected visit, young water voles Kale and Strife know something exciting must be about to happen. Little do they know that soon they'll be running for their lives, as a new danger threatens to destroy everything and everyone they care about. 
Kale and Strife will need all their strength and courage to survive their journey into the unknown. But the shadows are full of enemies, and still more surprises lie in wait . . . will they ever make it back home again? 
I’ve given you two contrasting mini-extracts from The Rising to suggest the range of flavours in this delightful story. At one end of the spectrum, it is lyrical and touched with subtle fantasy. Indeed, as the prologue excerpt shows, it has a delicate hint of the spiritual about it. 

But on the other hand, there’s character-led humour and easy-to-read adventure. It’s a fine balance which author Tom Moorhouse carries off well. 

If you want something with the charm of The Wind in the Willows, but without either the sexism or snobbery, then this is a cracking choice. True, there are no anthropomorphic toads driving cars, but that strong sense of a beloved countryside animates both. There’s definite peril – which can be a little frightening at times – and some sadness. But the moments of beauty, courage and joy will outweigh any anxiety on the behalf of younger readers or listeners. 

It could certainly be read aloud to young listeners at primary school – Tom Moorhouse’s love and knowledge of his subject shines through without spoiling the story. I should like to add that the detailed illustrations by Simone Mendez really make this a lovely book to share. 

The Rising would make a brilliant choice for child readers not quite ready for the length, complexity and epic scope of Watership Down, but who love wildlife. I would recommend they read The River Singers first (I wish I had) as this is the sequel – but it’s not absolutely necessary. A good read for lovers of nature – whatever their age.

K. M. Lockwood lives by the sea in Sussex - see the pics on Instagram. She fills jars with sea-glass, writes on a very old desk and reads way past her bedtime. Her tiny bed-and-breakfast is stuffed full of books - and even the breakfasts are named after writers. You're always welcome to chat stories with @lockwoodwriter on Twitter.

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