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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Snowbone* by Cat Weatherill- young readers book review
by Cat Weatherill
Ages 9-12 336 pages Yearling November 2008 Paperback    

In the land of Ashenpeake, wooden eggs hatch into wooden babies who quickly grow into tireless beings capable of healing themselves of illness and regrowing lost limbs. While that’s a fine thing for the Ashenpeakers, it also makes them highly prized as slaves because they can work - and work, and work.

Young Snowbone, the title character, is a brave and tenacious Ashenpeaker born aboard a cargo ship before reaching the slave market. Returned along with dozens of other young ones to their homeland by the pirates who inadvertently captured them, Snowbone and her friends must grow up by themselves and do it quickly before they are recaptured by the slave traders.

Once back on the black sands of Ashenpeake, however, Snowbone and her friends still have much to learn about their culture and themselves. An elderly Ashenpeaker, Figgis, befriends them and tells them the story of how they were originally created by the Ancient Ones and how their entire race is being destroyed by greedy slave traders who will stop at nothing to get what they want – the wooden children and the magical sap of trees that contain the souls of Ashenpeakers who have Moved On.

As the children grow and learn about their world, they also learn about themselves and their special talents: Mouse has the gift of compassion; Blackeye has vision that goes far beyond the physical world; and Snowbone has the ability to lead. But even with their valuable gifts, each of these young heroes also faces challenges and must learn the lessons that will allow them to change the world.

Horrified to learn that they are surely destined to become slaves, Snowbone sets out to destroy the slave trade and rescue the others of her kind all over the world. Her bravery and determination may be strong, but one young wooden girl can’t possibly stop the evil traders alone; luckily her friends are willing to help her in her quest. The first lesson that Snowbone learns is a hard one: every war has casualties.

Snowbone’s provocative theme combines with the best elements of fairy tale, myth, and adventure stories to make this an enthralling tale. While the term ‘wooden characters’ is usually derogatory, in this case the wooden characters are fully developed, complex and admirable. Author Cat Weatherill has created a fantasy world as real as the one we walk through every day, with dilemmas and delights that exist everywhere. The writing style is smooth and flowing, full of poetic turns and profound revelations that will open up a new world to many readers.

Slavery is only one of the issues that readers find themselves pondering as they enjoy the twists and turns and teasers in this magnificent book. It’s a different kind of coming-of-age story, quirky and disturbing, enlightening and frightening. Young readers will learn a lot about the value of freedom and diversity, but more importantly, they will learn about themselves and their own value while traveling with Snowbone and the Ashenpeakers on this epic journey.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Deborah Adams/2008 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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