Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Prince Who Fell From the Sky by John Claude Bemis

A well-known fact in the Forest is that humans no longer exist because the wolves killed them off in the great Rising. When a starship crashes and a toddler gets off the plane no one can believe it and the coyotes who stumble first on the scene decide to kill the small boy. Mama bear, Casseomae, sees the altercation and protects the boy hatching a plan to adopt him for all her cubs have all died. She reasons that she can teach the boy the ways of the Forest; however, the presence of the boy upsets the fragile pact between the wolves and bears and she must flee from enemies who want to kill him. The journey to find a safe place for the boy is tough, but with the help of a rat, Dumpster, who carries knowledge of the humans; and Pang, a dog, who is a faithful companion to the human race, they give it a go.

Dumpster loves to use the word "scratch" or "scratchin'" in his sentences, "Scratch if I know old bear" or "Not a scratchin' word, Cass." Helpful and caring inspite of his ornery talk, he loves to call Casseomae a "mushroom-brained bear" and in one funny dialogue he's calling the dog and Cass "beetle brains," "pebble brains," and then "birdbrains" as the two ask him questions. Young readers will like the dumb questions dog and Cass ask as they learn about humankind such as, "What's an alley?" or "What's fern-of-chip?" to which Dumpster replies, "Furniture, idiot." Add to the silly dialogue romp Dumpster giving wrong answers such as how a fire escape works and you have a fun read. Other puzzles readers will like solving are the descriptions of different types of animals where no English words are used to describe it.

The creepiness factor amps up with the wolves and their Gateway of Bones and Field of Fallen. Add a great villain in Ogeema whose "...voice was not the gutteral snaps typical of a wolf. The words were whispered, but the power in that barely present voice unnerved Rend to her core" and you have a nice scary story. The pecking order of the coyotes and wolves increase the fear factor, since Rend knows that Ogeema kills randomly and cruelly regardless of whether or not he is getting assistance.

The limited point of view was fascinating and well-done but it also kept me removed from the story and didn't answer all my questions. The author has the animals and boy communicate without words but with touch and descriptions. The boy "chirps" at Cass so we know he's old enough to talk. The animals and child manage to communicate and the authenticity of this elevates the story. While the author does it admirably, I wanted to hear the boy's thoughts and wanted to get in his head. If the reader had the boy's thoughts then I could have found out more about his world and how he came to be on a ship that crashed in the Forest or what happened to humankind.

I was reading this eBook on a flight to Vietnam and maybe I wasn't getting enough oxygen because I struggled with the age of the boy and I kept mixing up the vora's and viand's - the names are too similar (of course, I've lived in Taipei 6 years and know about as much Chinese as an infant - memory is NOT my strength). It did make me wonder if kids would get confused with some of the world building like me. Probably not. I can hear Rat calling me names, "You scratchin' birdbrain, write it down." I liked the character so well he's talking to me now. A unique story. Enjoy

Reading level 5.7
3 Smileys

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