We also love children's books. Especially children's fantasy.
So when we found out that we could get both Andy P & Fantasy in one package, we were eager to try it out. Andrew Peterson has recently begun to try his hand at another form of word-art. Not only is he still writing songs; he's now also writing a children's fantasy/adventure series called The Wingfeather Saga. Ryan & I read Book 1 (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness) aloud to each other in the first year of our marriage, and lent our copy out to as many folks as we could. Book 2 came out ON our second wedding anniversary (August 18th '09), so of course we planned to order and enjoy our own copy. Imagine our excitement when we got a chance to participate in the North! Or Be Eaten blogtour! Basically, we got our own free copy of the book, and then "have to" write up a blogpost on it during this week. Oh, please don't throw me in the briar patch! =D (Although it does sort of feel like I'm back in school with book reports due, lol.)
This series traces the adventures of the 3 Igiby children; Janner, "Tink" (Kalmar), and Leeli. They live, like everyone else in their land (Skree), under the opression of the cruel, venomous lizard-like Fangs of Dang. Their land is also populated by hilarious and fantastic creatures such as sea dragons, bumpy digtoads, horned hounds, and the notoriously awful toothy cows of Skree. While never truly free, at least the children had a loving home in Glipwood Township with their mother Nia and their ex-pirate grandfather, Podo Helmer... until the day when Leeli's faithful little dog Nugget angered a Fang, and everything went downhill from there. Through a series of wonderfully crazy events, the Igiby family routed & killed a whole horde of the evil Fangs, escaped with their lives, and caused the entire town of Glipwood to flee to nearby Dugtown to escape the wrath of the Fangs. They also discovered that they themselves are the hidden, surviving royal children of the lost kingdom of Anniera, a fabled beautiful Isle across the sea. Called the "Jewels of Anniera," they are sought after by Gnag the Nameless, and his plans to seize them are growing increasingly ruthless. Thus the stage is set for this second installment of the saga.
While I heartily recommend the first book to any & all adventure-lovers, this second one is even better! The characters are deepening, the story is widening, and the author seems to be settling into his stride as a writer. While the last book's humor tended to be bold-faced and silly -- at times a bit over the top, in my opinion,-- this book's hilarity is more subtle; interwoven into the descriptions & dialogue more than in (admittedly funny) footnotes-- though fear not, the footnotes are still there! =D One of my favorite of A.P's little tricks is slipping an incongruous adjective into a list of expected synonyms, with very humorous effect; such as the time Grandfather Podo is said to walk away from kissing the crone Nurgabob (his former sweetheart) with a look of mingled "fondness, sadness, and nausea."
The chronicle opens with the Igiby family in hiding in the monster-infested Glipwood Forest. They've taken refuge in the treehouse castle (my dream as a child!) of the half-mad "Peet the Sock Man," who they now know and love as their very own uncle, Artham P. Wingfeather-- brother to their late father, Esben the King, and the last Throne Warden of Anniera. He is an amazing fighter, devoted to the children, and his spells of insanity seem to be lessening, though he still refuses to explain how he came to have talons instead of hands, and what broke his mind...
Their refuge soon discovered, they are pursued by Fangs, and must make for the Ice Prairies in the far north, where their reptilian opressors cannot survive, much less fight. There is a rumored gathering of resisters up there, and the family aims to join them, with their old friend Oskar N. Reteep, the book-seller, in tow. Their way is frought with dangers, of course, from the army of pursuing Fangs, and the monsters of the Forest itself. However, this book grows up a bit, with the worst dangers no longer being monsters, but rather the twisted of our own kind: people. First, there are the theiving Stranders, who would sooner kill and rob you than ask your name; later, there are parents so desperate that they try to steal any child for the Fangs in the hope of receiving back their own children-- two replacements for every child they have lost; and still later, there are children who have been so abused and downtrodden that all they want to do is ensure that others, too, merely see themselves as "Tools." The Igibys must also confront the mixed motives and fear in their own hearts which threatens to tear the family apart. Most horifically, we learn that the Fangs themselves- and the newer, hardier Grey Fangs, who CAN survive in the Ice Prairies,- are actually creatures to be pitied. (I won't say more on that for fear of ruining the story-- because I want you to go and read this book!)
Me with Andrew Peterson at his most recent Louisville concert